UML says alliance with Maoists, Unified Socialist possible but with a caveatThe party calls on ‘like-minded’ communist and non-communist outfits to join forces.
Following the party’s last Central Committee meeting, there seems to be a slight change in CPN-UML leaders’ tone.
Earlier they were putting up a brave face in public that they would fight the upcoming elections on their own and that they were capable of defeating the ruling alliance. Now they are saying they are open to a poll alliance with “like-minded forces.”
Moreover, the party leadership has also hinted the UML will welcome communist parties and leaders if they come to terms with the UML’s ideology and principles.
As the major elections approach, some party leaders have been forewarning that the UML is faced with challenges—the party may not fare well if it fights single-handedly as the ruling coalition has fortified its alliance.
At the Standing Committee meeting on August 23, Ghanshyam Bhusal presented a proposal in favour of a communist alliance for the upcoming polls.
At the politburo meeting on Thursday, Bhusal stated that the party will face a disappointing result if it fought without an alliance because, in reality, the party is not undefeatable despite claims to the contrary by some of its leaders. According to him, without an alliance, the party will not only lose the election but also face long-term consequences.
Insiders say the party’s leaders have been continuously urging the top leadership to explore possible alliances to improve its poll prospects. As the ruling coalition has fortified against the UML, party leaders have been raising their voices to consider options such as seeking an alliance with other noncommunist forces like the Loktantrik Samajbadi Party and Rastriya Prajatantra Party, among others, if not with the CPN (Maoist Centre) and CPN (Unified Socialist).
The Central Committee meeting of the party which concluded on Saturday also discussed the matter.
The two-day meeting decided to partner with like-minded parties. It also urged the communist parties out of the ruling coalition and leaders of the Maoist Centre and Unified Socialist who acknowledge the UML’s ideology and consider it the right party to join it.
“The party chair did not call for an alliance with the Maoist Centre and Unified Socialist at the meeting, but with other forces and the leaders in these two parties who acknowledge UML’s principles and ideology,” said a UML leader who wished to remain anonymous.
According to the leader, some UML leaders have been urging the party leadership to act accordingly as the ruling alliance is coming strong.
“The party leaders have been calling on the top leadership continuously at party meetings to strengthen party organisations and bring together all like-minded forces across the country under an alliance,” the leader told the Post.
The Central Committee meeting has also decided to go to the November polls projecting chair KP Sharma Oli as the next prime minister.
Party Central Committee member Bishnu Rijal said the party has urged like-minded parties to join forces with the UML. They have not talked about a communist alliance, however.
“For the Maoist Centre and Unified Socialist leaders who acknowledge our ideologies and principles, our party chair has called for them to join the UML to make it a strong national power,” Rijal told the Post.
Speaking at an interaction with journalists on Monday, UML General Secretary Shankar Pokharel said the party will form poll alliances considering the benefits it would get.
“We will not do a policy-based agreement with anyone. We can form alliances with the forces which would bring us mutual benefits,” he said.
The UML had formed an electoral alliance with the Maoist Centre to contest the 2017 federal and provincial polls and had garnered an almost two-thirds majority. Later, in May 2018, the two parties merged to form the Nepal Communist Party (NCP). However, the Supreme Court annulled the merger reviving the two parties. A year back in August, UML dissident leaders Madhav Nepal and Jhala Nath Khanal quit the party and formed their own CPN (Unified Socialist) with 24 lawmakers.
Raghuji Pant, a UML leader, said the party favours a poll alliance.
“However, the communist parties in the ruling coalition should first quit the coalition and approach us. If they want partnership, we are ready,” he said.
According to him, the party is also ready to contest the elections single-handedly.
“Both sides should first concur to forge an alliance. As long as they keep clinging to the ruling coalition, merely harping on the idea of [a new] alliance will not work,” he told the Post. “Our doors are open to other smaller communist parties also.”
In the last general elections, the UML won 80 seats under the direct election system and 41 under the proportional representation system. The Nepali Congress won 23 seats under the direct system and 40 under the proportional representation system.
Although the UML has called for a poll alliance, some of its leaders claim the party is strong enough for a majority single-handedly and does not need to join hands with others.
“Who will we form an alliance with?” asked Padma Aryal, a UML secretary.
“Other leftist forces have joined hands with rightist forces.”
According to her, UML is strong enough to contest the elections alone as it garnered the highest number of popular votes in the local elections.
“We will secure a majority on our own,” she said.