Wednesday, March 27, 2019
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The MC-UML Metamorphosis

Mukti Rijal

The two communist parties – CPN -UML and CPN -Maoist Centre – have dissolved themselves to reincarnate into Nepal Communist part the other day, which can be described as an important epoch in the political history of Nepal. This has sent new shockwaves in the political dynamics of the country. Almost six months ago, these two parties had not only agreed to set up electoral alliance for the federal and provincial level polls but also cede themselves into a single leftist party through the process of merger and consolidation. At that time, they had formulated a six-point accord signifying that they would not only enter electoral alliance through seat-sharing and mutual adjustment but also work out the process for unification of the parties into a single organisation. Subservient to the terms of the agreement, UML was allotted to compete in sixty per cent of the seats for federal and provincial parliament while the Maoist Centre contested in the forty per cent. As expected and calculated, the parties were able to garner nearly two-third majority in the elections. As a result, they formed government both at the federal and provincial levels.

Ideological issues
In fact these two parties have been able to form the governments in the six out of the seven provinces in the country. The merger and unification of the two communist parties has in a way reversed the trend of the splits and factions plaguing the communist parties in Nepal. The communist parties have been predisposed to split and create factions along what they call ideological issues and polemics. This is the case not only in Nepal but also the phenomenon in the world communist movement as well. The ideological issues drive wedge and create conflicts among the communist parties. If we look at the contemporary history, we find that the then Soviet Union and People’s Republic China were at ideological loggerheads and also indulged into vilification propaganda against each other.
Needless to say, China under the leadership of the Mao did contend that his country was the real Marxist and revolutionary state and the Chinese communist party was pursuing the infallibly correct ideological path. The then Soviet Union was accused of being revisionist and social imperialist whereas the Soviet Union used to castigate the China as a pseudo-Marxist and pseudo-revolutionary attempting to malign and outrage the world communist movement. The Nepalese communist parties were also split along these lines and several splinter communist groups had emerged claiming that they were the real revolutionary following the Marxist and Leninist ideology. Some groups were pro-Soviet whereas others were toeing to the pro-Maoist line with reference to the division in the international communist movement. However, despite the ideological veneer and pretensions, each split was rather engineered due to personal ego, interest and jealousy, not substantiated in any way by the ideological rhyme and reason.

The dissolution of communism in the then Soviet Union and Eastern Europe saw the end of cold war. It also discredited the communism as an ideology and the countries that had subscribed fully or partially to the elements of communism did abandon their allegiance to it one and after the other. However, Nepal appeared to be a unique case in the sense that the communist parties mounted their strength to present themselves as the influential political force in the country. The Maoists challenged the state through the bogey of people’s war and attempted to smash it through ten-year-long armed conflict. But the UML maintained its competitive vigour through participation in the democratic elections. The comprehensive peace accord signed in 2006 AD ended the Maoist armed insurgency and paved the way for mainstreaming the Maoists into the peaceful democratic process. Consequently, Nepal did witness the emergence of the two stronger parties competing for their role and share as the governing party in the democratic process.

In the last two elections held for the Constituent Assembly that pitted both the parties into democratic competition against each other together with the Nepali Congress. These communist parties had demonstrated their clout and strength. Gradually, the Maoists came crashing down losing out their support base to the rivals as indicated in the second CA polls. As the Maoists were searching for their existential rationale and validity, they forged alliance with the Nepali Congress too as part of the power sharing arrangement. This power sharing hobnobs of the Maoists with the Nepali Congress ended after they chose their archenemy UML as natural ally. In fact, the Maoists under the leadership of Prachanda showed unstable political behaviour and switched over to UML to forge alliance for the federal and provincial elections. Finally, the Maoists have now merged and yielded to UML leaving no traces of their ideological arsenal behind.

Welcome move
Politics in Nepal has been in fact reduced into such an abhorrent game that is guided by opportunism and convenience. In the Nepalese politics, there is neither permanent enemy nor permanent friend and one can befriend others unpredictably if it suits to serve political ends. Especially after the Maoists joined the peace process, it has split into several factions, ranging from ultra-leftists, centrists and rightist of the centre. With the depleting political credibility and factional duels, the Maoists, led by Prachanda, were really desperate to find a strong ally to save them from the state of political turbulence and collapse. The political move to form a single political party through merger into UML can be said a welcome development. But its successful execution through management of personal ego and ambitions will need a deft management. It is yet to be seen whether the egoist and self-centered leaders will work in cohesion for the larger interest of political aggregation and consolidation under the umbrella of the single party.

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