- Raisina Debates
- Oct 13 2017
Political development in Nepal took a new turn after the Communist Party of Nepal – Unified Marxist-Leninist (CPN-UML) -- formed an alliance with the Communist Party of Nepal – Maoist Centre (CPN-MC) and the Naya Shakti Party, Nepal on October 4, 2017. Indications are that the alliance will finally end up in the merger of the three major Communist parties into a single party after the forthcoming elections of the provincial and federal units. Such a development is likely to strengthen the clout of the left block in Nepalese politics.
The recent decision made by some of the influential opportunist leaders of Madhesh-based Rastriya Janata Party Nepal (RJPN) to contest the forthcoming elections with the election symbol, sun, of the CPN-UML further emboldened the image of the left front.
Some of these developments have brought about major ripples at the national political scene. No one anticipated such a change right at the juncture when the nation is gearing up for provincial and federal level elections on November 26 and December 7 after conducting the local bodies elections in three phases on May 14, June 14 and September 18, 2017.
In response, the Nepali Congress (NC), which happens to be the largest political party in Nepal, also decided to form democratic alliance with like-minded political parties, including the two Madhesh centric parties -- the RJPN and the Federal Socialist Forum-Nepal (FSFN), the Rastriya Prajantra Party-Nepal (RPPN) and the Nepal Democratic Forum.
Most importantly, the Bijay Kumar Gachhadar-led Nepal Democratic Forum merged with the NC on October 9, 2017. On the same day, the RPPN led by Kamal Thapa also joined Sher Bahadur Deuba’s government. Following this development, Gachhadar has been made new General Secretary of the NC; while Kamal Thapa has become new Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister of the country. It is likely that Deuba would sack all the ministers in his cabinet from the CPN-MC as this party formed an electoral alliance with the main opposition CPN-UML.
In another important development, the RJPN and the FSFN, which had formed electoral alliance between themselves immediately after the Communist alliance on October 6, 2017, are equally enthusiastic to join the NC-led democratic alliance if proper adjustments are made in seat allocations.
The RJPN and the FSFN want the NC to give them 131 out of 330 seats in the provincial elections and one-third of the 165 seats in the federal elections. If at all such seat adjustments are made, it is likely that the RJPN/FSFN would join the democratic alliance.
However, in certain quarters it is feared that the Madhesh agenda will be lost if at all the RJPN/FSFN join the democratic alliance led by the NC that played a key role in suppressing the Madhesh movement against the present constitution in 2015-16 in league with the CPN-UML and the CPN-MC. Given the level of political awareness in the Terai, it is unlikely that the RJPN/FSFN will dare to drift away from their main agenda. But if at all they do so that could only help the radical elements to foster.
The formation of alliances is a new culture in Nepalese politics. One of the most important factors that united the Communist forces in Nepal was the outcome of the recent local units elections. The CPN-UML and the CPN-MC together won 401 (53 percent) of the total 753 seats of chairperson/mayor of the Village Councils/municipalities. It became obvious that the Communist forces could easily outsmart the democratic and other forces, including the NC, in the forthcoming elections and thus capture power both at the centre and the provincial government levels if they unite.
However, the country is rife with speculations that the Communist alliance is the brain-child of one of our neighbours in the same way as the democratic alliance is the outcome of the other.
Only time and behaviour of these alliances in future will show if they are driven by any external forces. But if the left alliance in the country is driven by one neighbour and the democratic alliance is driven by the other, that could be catastrophic. The country in such a situation could plunge into long-term political instability.
The CPN-MC chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal is of the view that the building of the alliances would foster socio-economic development of the country through the establishment of a new political culture. On the other hand, Ram Chandra Poudel, a senior leader of the NC, criticised the move for it could bring disaster in the country. Other leaders of the party along with those of the Madhesh-based political parties are equally critical to this move. General Secretary of the NC, Shashank Koirala and the RPP leader Kamal Thapa disclosed that the democratic alliance needs to raise the issue of making Nepal Hindu state again to meet the challenge posed by the Communist alliance.
It will be only after the provincial and federal elections that the real strength of the two alliances will be judged. But one thing is sure -- such a development will gradually take the country to two or three-party rule. At the surface level, this seems to ensure political stability in the country. But, it is also feared that the country could be pushed towards authoritarianism once the left front becomes successful in capturing power through the democratic means. Such elements could even try to implement the failed Communist ideology in which the voice of the Madheshis, Janajatis, Dalits and other disadvantaged groups would be suppressed. Another risk is the army which could not that easily accept Communist ideology in the country.
With the formation of alliances, the country is now exposed to all kinds of uncertainties. If the alliance forces work in the national interest, the outcome would be good for the people as there will be only two or three parties to rule the country. But, if they happen to serve as a tool in the hands of the foreign forces, the nation could plunge into serious conflict.
The views expressed above belong to the author(s).