UML turns to grassroots with alliance on rocksWhile the Maoist Centre is also organising party programmes, the Congress is too fixated on presidential election.
The second-largest party in the House of Representatives, CPN-UML, has launched a two-month-long campaign called ‘Mission Grassroots’ starting on Friday, to strengthen the party organisation and broaden its ideological base at the local level across the country.
On Friday, an orientation event for the leaders who would be working on ‘Mission Grassroots’ will be held in each of the seven provinces. To kickstart the campaign, party chair KP Sharma Oli is scheduled to give a virtual speech to the party members from Kathmandu.
During the campaign, the party has decided to mobilise all the central committee members of the party at the local units. The party secretariat, on Tuesday, published a list of leaders to be deployed at the local units.
The 15th secretariat meeting of the party held at its head office at Chyasal, Lalitpur on February 9 had decided to conduct a two-month special campaign for ideological and organisational strengthening of the party.
Despite becoming the second-largest party in the election, the UML was able to cobble together a government. Though the government is led by CPN (Maoist Centre) chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal, the third-largest party in Parliament, the UML succeeded in grabbing plum ministries including finance and foreign affairs, the position of House Speaker and chief ministers of three provinces, among other important positions.
Oli had succeeded in plucking the Maoists out of the Congress-led alliance, forging a new coalition with his UML and the Maoist Centre as key partners. Oli had publicly boasted of breaking the Congress-Maoist ties, touting it as UML’s success.
The UML, which is still thought to be the most organised party in the country, seems to have taken this strategic move to recover from its electoral debacle caused by the party’s split. A UML faction split the party to form the CPN (Unified Socialist) led by Madhav Kumar Nepal in August 2021.
In contrast, the Nepali Congress, the largest party in the House, has not even held the party’s central committee meeting since the November elections. The party’s central committee last met on July 18 last year.
Also, other parties like the CPN (Maoist Centre), Janata Samajbadi Party and the CPN (Unified Socialist) have confined most of their activities to Kathmandu and engaged more in power politics. They, however, have been regularly holding party committee meetings.
The fourth-largest party in Parliament, Rastriya Swatantra Party, has decided to build its organisation across the country. The party’s extended meetings will take place in Hetauda on February 19, in Janakpur on February 21 and in Biratnagar on February 25.
As matters stand, the Congress has not only failed to mobilise its cadres, but it has also failed to give full shape to various departments and to hold the conventions of sister wings. The party has yet to convene its policy convention, which was left out during the 14th general convention held in 2021.
While most of the political parties already have discussed their election results, the Congress has deferred its review meeting too.
Min Bahadur Bishwakarma, a central committee member, also acknowledges the party’s weaknesses. However, he said that the Congress cannot sit idly while the UML mobilises its grassroots members.
“The UML has a single line, which puts the party in a comparatively easier position to mobilise its local committees. In being to split the five-party electoral alliance, they have something to share with the local cadres,” Bishawakarma told the Post. “Our party has nothing to show to our local committee members.”
Bishwakarma acknowledged that cadres have had grievances with the party leadership for failing to make committees functional. “The Congress is focused on the presidential election, so our party will mobilise its local members only after the vote,” Bishawakarma added.
The election commission has scheduled the presidential poll for March 9. The Congress was unable to form the government despite being the largest party when its key partner, the Maoist Centre, joined hands with the UML to make Dahal the prime minister.
UML leaders claim that the presidential election will not affect the party’s campaign. “Though vice-chairs of the party along with some other senior leaders will be actively involved in the campaign, they can immediately come to the Capital if needed,” party office secretary Bhisma Adhikari told the Post.
The ‘Mission Grassroots’ campaign is said to last two months, from mid-February to mid-April.
“With the three-tier elections, the party is trying to strengthen its ideology and structure,” said Adhikari.
The UML has dispersed its central members across the country, giving them 11 assignments such as renewing party memberships, orienting new members to the party ideology, facilitating dialogue between elected representatives and party committees, recognising individuals who have made significant contributions to the party and society, and for soliciting suggestions.
The party has also deputed its seven vice-chairpersons to the seven provinces to lead the campaign.
Meanwhile, the Maoist Centre is also organising its programmes in the seven provinces, said Ganesh Shah, a Maoist leader.
“Our party will hold provincial leaders’ meetings starting Saturday,” Shah said. “After that, gatherings with local leaders will be held in Kathmandu.”