Unified Socialist in crisis as leaders, cadres flock back to UMLLeaders say party rank and file is confused also because of the conflicting statements of top leaders Nepal and Khanal.
The CPN (Unified Socialist) formed by splitting the CPN-UML is currently struggling to save its rank and file as party leaders and cadres started to flock back to their old party.
On Sunday, Ramesh Basnet, Ramechhap district chair of the Unified Socialist, returned to the mother party. Amid a function, UML General Secretary Shankar Pokharel welcomed him to the party that he quit in August 2019.
On Friday, as many as 25 leaders and cadres under the party’s Tanahun district chair Shreeram Karki returned to the UML amid a function.
However, Unified Socialist leaders dismissed the defections and argued that it is normal for people to change parties. They admitted that many of their leaders have left the party, but some others are citing Ghanashyam Bhusal’s joining the Unified Socialist as an example. Bhusal, a former UML deputy general secretary, joined the Unified Socialist in January and he was appointed general secretary in March.
“People come and go. It’s true that more people are deserting our party. Now, we are working hard to strengthen our organisational base,” said Jagannath Khatiwada, spokesperson of the party. “We will soon come up with our plans to give momentum to the party.”
A group of UML leaders led by former chief of the same party Madhav Kumar Nepal split the largest communist party of the country to form the CPN (Unified Socialist) in August 2021. They split the party protesting against UML chair KP Sharma Oli’s decision to dissolve the House of Representatives twice and arguing that their move was imperative to safeguard the constitution. However, the Nepal-led party is currently struggling to stop its leaders and cadres from flocking back to the old party.
Nepal had the support of some 30 lawmakers and 55 central committee members of the UML when he was preparing to split the party. But his support base started decreasing right from the beginning and the trend still continues, according to observers.
The party’s third-in-command Kedar Neupane, who served as vice-chair, returned to the UML on June 4 along with another vice-chair Keshav Lal Shrestha.
Previously, Neupane had presented a 33-point dissent at the party's central committee meeting urging the party to pursue a broader left unity by including the UML. He also warned that failure to do so could result in the party’s collapse. But the Unified Socialist leadership dismissed the suggestion.
After the party’s poor show in the polls despite forging an electoral alliance with the Congress and the Maoist Centre, Neupane started saying that the Unified Socialist would implode if it continued to remain in the Congress-led coalition. Ahead of the general elections last November, Neupane had strongly lobbied for electoral alliance among leftist parties including the UML.
The Party’s deputy secretary of the Bhojpur district committee, Ishwar Kumar Karki, resigned from the party on June 14.
Around a year after the party’s inception, the trend emerged of Unified Socialist leaders returning to the mother party. The list of defectors is long. Rasuwa district chair Bishnu Devkota, standing committee member Chudamani Jangali, Gulmi district committee on September 5 last year and Jumla committee on November 7 last year.
All members of the Dang Constituency-1 committee joined the UML in April.
Unified Socialist Secretary Ram Kumari Jhakri, who was one of the most trusted lieutenants of party chair Nepal, has been inactive after she lost the elections in November.
Many insiders said former prime minister Nepal’s ambition to become the chief executive of the country one more time has led his party towards a downfall, as it could not even secure the threshold to become a national party in the 2022 elections.
The debacle in the polls left the leaders, who had joined hands with Nepal hoping to build a better and stronger political party, in despair. They say they had no other choice but to return to the old fold.
The Unified Socialist leadership in an attempt to control the damage has been taking one decision after another. It decided to unite with the Janata Samajbadi Party, but the talks failed. Before the 2022 polls, the party had tried hard to join hands with the CPN (Maoist Centre), but its chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal ignored the party’s efforts and allegedly attempted to dominate the party during electoral negotiations.
Lately, the party managed to become a part of the Socialist Front, a loose alliance of four parties. Other three parties include Dahal’s Maoist Centre, Upendra Yadav’s Janata Samajbadi Party, and Netra Bikram Chand-led Communist Party of Nepal.
However, the front is yet to find its ways to move towards socialism as differences have already surfaced among its constituents over the parliamentary system.
Leaders said party rank and file have become confused also because of the conflicting statements given by the party’s two topmost leaders—Chairman Nepal and Jhalanath Khanal, who is second-in-command of the party—regarding the party’s political line and priorities. Khanal wants a broader unity among leftist parties instead of joining hands with the Nepali Congress while the party chair is strongly in favour of giving continuity to the current coalition. Nepal is hopeful of becoming prime minister at least for a year based on the understanding reached with Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Congress chief Sher Bahadur Deuba and Nepal. They have reportedly reached an understanding to lead the government by turns during the present five-year term of the parliament.
According to some party insiders, UML leadership has been meticulously working to bring back the maximum possible number of leaders and cadres from the Unified Socialist back to the mother party by offering them better positions.
The new party has 10 lawmakers and is in the government with two ministers—vice-chair Beduram Bhusal as Agriculture and Livestock Minister, deputy general secretary Prakash Jwala as Physical Infrastructure and Transport Minister—and a minister of state Nanda Chapai.
The party has called its central committee meeting for August 6-7, which is expected to devise a concrete plan for the rejuvenation of the party so as to stop the ongoing landslide in the party.
“Our central committee will come up with a plan that will help stop more people from deserting the party,” said Khatiwada.