Ruling party prepares for mass gatherings but party leaders say they have nothing to tell the peopleThe Nepal Communist Party is planning mass gatherings to connect the party to the people, but many are unconvinced if the campaign will yield anything useful.
With the Nepal Communist Party working to bring party unification to a conclusion, plans are afoot to hold mass gatherings as part of a special campaign that will connect the party with the people. But many party leaders are sceptical of just how fruitful such a campaign will be.
“What are we going to tell the people?” said Mani Thapa, a standing committee member. “There is nothing substantial that we can share with our voters who have become increasingly disenchanted with the government’s performance.”
The ruling party started mulling over mass meetings in the wake of growing discontent among the general public. The KP Sharma Oli administration, in the last year-and-a-half, has received more criticism than praise.
When Oli returned to power, he was heading the strongest government in the country’s recent history. Political stability had been restored after decades of upheaval. But with the ruling party mired in its own internal dynamics, the Oli government failed to capitalise on the mandate it had received; rather than governing, it tried to use the electoral mandate to rule with an iron fist.
While the government engaged in prosperity braggadocio, it failed to live up to the promises that the party had made during the hustings. Numerous controversial bills and decisions did not help the party.
“Today, leaders are not in a position to defend the government,” said Thapa.
Leaders say there is a realisation among the leadership that mistakes were made. But the leadership appears clueless as to how to correct and not repeat them.
The realisation that the government was not heading in the right direction appeared to have dawned on the government only after thousands of people filled Kathmandu’s streets to protest the Guthi Bill.
Party leaders admit that the June protest was a major setback for the government, as it was forced to withdraw the Guthi Bill. Yet another bill, the Media Council Bill, ran into controversy after journalists took to the streets against it. The government is now preparing to withdraw the Security Council Bill, which too has courted controversy.
What is more concerning, say party leaders, are the government’s policy decisions, including taxes, that directly impact voters.
Disenchantment is visible among ruling party lawmakers themselves, as they often take jibes at their own government in Parliament.
On Thursday, ruling party lawmaker Krishna Gopal Shrestha demanded that the government respond to the dengue outbreak, which has spread to 56 districts, claiming six lives and leaving more than 8,000 people hospitalised.
“How many lawmakers infected with dengue will it take for the government to act?” said Shrestha.
Holding mass meetings at a time when discontent is so palpable, not just among the public but also among party leaders themselves, is inopportune, party spokesperson Narayan Kaji Shrestha told the Post earlier this month.
The government should first respond to the frustration and discontent of the people through its work,” Shrestha said. “Mass meetings alone won’t help address the concerns of the people. The government should also inform people about its activities—what it is doing and what it is planning to do.”
Party leaders have long demanded a separate meeting dedicated to evaluating the government’s performance. But despite promises, such a meeting has not taken place yet.
“Since there are lots of comments from the party rank and file, the next standing committee meeting, to be fixed by the upcoming secretariat meeting, will evaluate the government’s performance,” said Devendra Poudel, a standing committee member.
Lekhnath Neupane, a central committee member who recently travelled across the country to promote his new book, said that there is a lot of negativity among the public about the government.
“While people are lamenting the way the federal government is performing, they are also fed up with the subnational governments, as they say not much is being done to encourage members of the public,” Neupane told the Post. “In such a situation, even if we hold mass gatherings, we will hardly have anything to tell the people.”
Mass meetings can be a good platform to disseminate information about the party, connect the party with the voters, and inform them of the government’s achievements and future plans. But such mass gatherings can only be effective when the party has something to say.
“Party cadres also need to own what the leaders say. There is no point talking when party members themselves look at their leaders with scorn,” said Ghanshyam Bhusal, a standing committee member.
According to Bhusal, the party must first bring forth a proposal regarding what it wants to do and then put it to the table for discussion in the standing and central committees as well as the parliamentary party.
“After these committees own the proposal then we can reach out to the grassroots level,” he said. “Ad hoc mass meetings are a recipe for disaster.”
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