The Left Alliances in Nepal: A Political Conundrum

2 महिना अगाडी

-Keshav Bhattarai 

In the first week of October 2017, Nepal experienced a major political under current. The three leftist political parties— Communist Party of Nepal—United Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML), Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist Center (CPN-MC) and Naya Shakti Party- Nepal (NSPN)-- have announced of forming an electoral alliance to contest the upcoming provincial and parliamentary elections proposed in two phases, November 26 and December 7, 2017. They will also have a joint manifesto for the elections. Besides, several independent candidates will contest in CPN-UML’s election symbol—the Sun. The election will be held for the new federal parliament for 165 seats and for the assemblies of 7 provinces for 330 seats. These three parties also have signed a six-point agreement promising that they will form a single Communist party after these elections. Also, it was announced that after garnering over 2/3 majority, the Westminster Parliamentary System will be changed into an executive Presidential System, eventually enforcing Socialistic Communism.   

This seems to be a major shift in the Nepali politics where the government has been changing frequently.  In the announcement, it was said that the new alliance will uphold the principle of balanced relations with neighbours—India and China--on the basis of mutual respect, the UN Charter, and Panchsheel. After this incidence, several interviews/ opinions appeared in televisions, radios, and newspapers. Except for some leftist parties’ political leaders affiliated with CPN-UML, CPN-MC, and NSPN, independent thinkers have been questioning the motive of the CPN-MC, which is one of the major coalition partners of the current government. The Nepali Congress (NC), leading the current coalition government, took the coalition partner—CPN-MC’s- move as an act of “deceit” and betray on the democratic principles because of its presence in the government and opposition at the same time. 
A famous academician (Oct 5, 2015, Mountain Focus, TV Youtube) coined this alliance as the Union of Cash-Bam (union of leftist leaders involved in business). Past activities of some political leaders associated with this alliance, revealed that they are involved in running medical colleges, hospitals, businesses, tender contracts of big development projects, and are clandestinely controlling large non-governmental organizations (NGOs), which without question make them the “Cash-Bam.” The hasty announcement of alliances to develop a socialistic communism model in Nepal without following the specific criteria that are associated with the Communist Worldview and contemporary development of capitalism, have raised several questions. As such, the even the motives of large Communist Parties are often unclear; for examples, Lenin’s Communist Party was a “quagmire” between the revolutionary and opportunist current. Historical evidence justifies that the Nepali communist movement had been facing various ideological deviations including the patriotic rhetoric; for examples, the 40-point demands of the Maoist Party and its clandestine relationships with India; the nationalistic anti-Indian slogans vs and the Mahakali Treaty of the CPN-UML.  These are just a few contradictory examples. 
Political pundits argue that several factors might have played role in the current alliances. First, the recent local bodies' election showed that despite alliance between NC and CPN-MC, the NC cadres are hesitating to vote for the CPN-MC candidates and vice versa. Second, the CPN-MC’s vote bank has been steadily sinking in the last few years. It is an opportunity for the CPN-MC Supremo to save his face by joining another large communist party--CPN-UML. Fourth, NSPN is almost non-existence in the local level elections of 2017, thus, for its leaders, this alliance is a lifesaving strategy, despite the fact that its Supremo (a splinter from CPN-MC) not long ago said that there is no meaning of communism in the world, and he would never affiliate with any communist ideology. Thus, the offer of 60:40 ratio is a CPN-UML’s gift to the CPN-MC and NSPN despite making any prior statements. Fifth, India always tried keeping Nepal below its knee level similar to what the British did to several African countries during its colonial period. Despite Nepal being an independent country, India’s big brotherly treatment to Nepal and the economic embargo by India in 2015-16 at the time when Nepal was suffering from 7.8 Richer Scale Earthquake has raised several anti-India sentiments in Nepal. The leftist parties might have thought that it is the opportune time to capitalize the anti-Indian sentiments and win the elections. Sixth, the leftist parties believe that their anti-Indian nationalist slogan has been effective to pull votes in the local election, and now they want to play a China card and make their anti-India slogans further effective and pull more votes. Their arguments are that the current alliance and eventual left unity will force India to expedite development work in Nepal, such as the Hulaki Rajmarg of the Tarai, and to compete with China in Nepal’s development. Seventh, the communist leaders also argue that the new alliance will keep India away from Nepal’s internal government changing politics because it claims to garner 2/3 majority.  
With these rapid political developments and communist leaders aiming to form Nepal a communist state, several questions remain unanswered. First, how the NCP-MC Supremo, who, not long ago was blamed by CPN-UML to have followed a policy of total surrender (Lamparsarbad) to India but has become a patriotic leader overnight in the eye of CPN-UML.  Second, are Nepali Communist leaders working in haste to save communist ideology in Nepal having seen the querulous communist situations in India’s West Bengal and Kerala?  Is renting CPN-UML’s election symbol—the Sun, to non-UML cadres philosophically correct? Third, how an external aid dependent Nepal will be trusted by various Western countries, if Nepal becomes a totalitarian communist country. At the global level, except for North Korea, Cuba and to some extent in Venezuela, the communist ideology has been outdated. Even in China, despite its rapid economic development, media censorship is very strict. If Nepal becomes a communist country, how Nepalis growing in an open society will accept such media censorship. Fourth, given the wishy washy nature of CPN-MC’s Supremo, is the model of current alliance implanted from outside to size the CPN-UML. Fifth, no matter how anti-India rhetoric the communist leaders chant, it is not possible to change Nepal’s geography.  Since the late 1960s, India as a downstream country has been hindering in the hydropower development of Nepal. Without hydropower development, Nepal does not have other alternatives for its economic development. Only a strong diplomatic approach with India may solve this problem. One-sided approach taken by Nepali communist leaders in the past tilting toward north could make Nepali life very difficult given the rugged terrain along the Nepal-China border.  It has been clear that corruption in Nepal has increased many folds recently. Though there was corruption during the Panchayat System, it was mainly concentrated at the royal palace and with limited people; after the 1990, the corruption came at the level of political leaders. During the communist rule, the corruption has been very institutionalized; for example, the institutionalized corruption during the Indian’s economic blockade in 2015-2016 when CPN-UML was in power in dealing petroleum products. With these corrupted attitudes and many of the communist leaders being involved in businesses and NGOs, whether Nepal will see any prosperity under the communist leadership.  Though old age pension is a contribution of Comrade Manmohan Adhikari, can this be sustain at an accelerated rate at the cost of industries and other developments. Without a clearly spelled out ruling system among the allied divergent ideologies, there is a danger of forming a totalitarian government in Nepal. A totalitarian government will push the country several years back before the people realize and revolt against the Communism to bring back democracy and economic developments as has happened in West Bengal of India.    

*. The author is professor of geography at the University of Central Missouri, USA, 

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