In a constant state of confusionOne year on, the Nepal Communist party is yet to decide on a single, unified ideology
Sometime around October 2018, Nepali politics took a thespian turn. The country’s two left parties—the CPN-UML and Maoist Centre announced their merger a few weeks before the elections. The agreement between CPN-UML Chair KP Oli and CPN (Maoist Centre) Chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal on the unification of their two parties gave birth to the Nepal Communist Party. Two major national leftist political forces—CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Centre)—merged to become the Nepal Communist Party on May 17, 2018—69 years after the communist movement gained momentum in the country. The development, hailed as “historic” by many, created a single political party in the country with a stronghold in Parliament. Last week marked the first anniversary of the ruling Nepal Communist Party. But concerns have grown whether the two leftist forces have indeed become one, ideologically.
The UML and the Maoists were incompatible when it came to the party ideology. But as the two major elections—the provincial and federal—approached they decided to become a single united force. Euphoric about this development, the people handed them a huge mandate. However, it seems the merger was made only at the top level; the party now has two chairpersons, but the cadres at the base are still unaware as to the way they will be adjusted in the new structure. Time and again it has come to the fore that the fundamental difference lies with how two halves of the party view the decade-long ‘people’s war’.
The Maoists waged a war against the state for 10 years from 1996 to 2006, which claimed nearly 17,000 lives. The UML, or its leader KP Sharma Oli never supported this ideology of the Maoists who wanted to attain power through the barrel of the gun. The UML initially embraced ‘people’s multiparty democracy’—a guiding principle introduced by its late leader Madan Bhandari, which also later went on to become the party’s ideology. Now, even a year since these two parties have unified, there remains an uncertainty over what ideology the Nepal Communist Party will follow—or even how they can assimilate the two principles the unifying forces practised previously.
Neither are the cadres and other party members clear about the party line nor do they have any clarity regarding the chain of command. Much like when the party was created a year ago, the future of the left alliance still hinges on the personal relationship between Oli and Dahal—a fragile basis for the structural strength of such a large political party, which is also in government. Therefore, all outstanding issues should be resolved immediately, short of which the cadres and other party members will feel deceived—a slippery slope for a ruling party.