One party, two tribesFactions create divisions in the party and rupture unity
Power is often dispersed across a party hierarchy. Over the months, growing discontent within the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP), particularly over the decisions taken by the joint leadership of KP Sharma Oli and Pushpa Kamal Dahal, has become evident. Dissatisfied with the way the party was being led, a faction of party leaders started criticising the government. Senior leader Madhav Kumar Nepal even organised a tea reception for the party’s standing committee members in Kathmandu, where he expressed serious reservations over the activities of the party leadership.
Factional leaders are increasingly miffed at Prime Minister Oli over his monopoly in running the party and the government. In fact, Nepal also wrote a note of dissent expressing dissatisfaction over the secretariat’s earlier decision to appoint the province in-charge, assistant in-charge, chairman and secretary. Yet, the NCP upheld its earlier picks for its provincial committees.
Competing claims for power and influence by the two factions will not only put the party under stress, but also distract it from its main agenda—bringing about changes in the country as promised during the elections and take it to a new high.
Factions create divisions in the party and rupture unity. Hence, the unethical aspects of a faction are always a concern. Seemingly, what is happening now is that political parties are being dominated by a particular faction. The dissatisfaction stems from the fact that some members feel they are being treated unfairly and some leaders are being biased towards the faction members of the party. But on the brighter side, they also help create a diverse pool of thought in a political organisation.
While the country is comparatively stable politically, we are still experiencing social and economic turmoil. Increasing incidents of sexual violence against women across the country, growing cases of corruption and abuse of power, and important and big hydropower projects lying in limbo—these issues compel a new kind of politics. This is the time to respond imaginatively to the problems and not be trapped in clichés and hierarchical claims for influence. When ideas, decisions and viewpoints on policies and governance come from different individuals and minds, and not just a singular, one-dimensional view, the process becomes more democratic and inclusive. Factions can play a role in engaging and debating on viewpoints within the party that will allow it to move forward.
The NCP should resolve whatever differences it has within the party at the earliest. As a democratic party, it should apply the principles of democracy inside the party too. Unresolved intra-party rifts led to the debacle of the Nepali Congress, which cost the party heavily during the last elections. If the members of the NCP are wise enough, they will not let this fate happen to them too. How can we expect the ruling party to tie the country together and usher in prosperity if it cannot keep its own party members content and ensure that it is here to work for everyone and not just a select few?