Misplaced priorities

  • UML GC has been dogged by ugly factional battles, instead of timely ideological debates
Misplaced priorities

Jul 6, 2014-

The UML’s General Convention (GC) has been dominated by the contest between KP Oli and Madhav Nepal for the party’s top leadership. The adherents of these two factions are committed to their respective leaders and bitterly opposed to their rivals. The contest is highly personalised and there has been little effort between the two leaders to delineate their differences on important political issues and to argue why their approach is better than that of the other. None of the leaders has provided a clear picture of their position in the political landscape and why electing them would have a marked difference to the second largest party in the country; almost all of their recent interviews are laced with personal vitriol. This is highly unfortunate. The UML has emerged as a strong political force after the recent election. Now, as an important partner in the ruling coalition, it should have come up with a distinct position that would have served to distinguish it from the Nepali Congress in the public eye. The GC is also an important forum to pitch itself as a mainstream communist party and show how it is different from the UCPN (Maoist).

Granted, there has been some discussion on ideological issues through the convention. But all the proposals that have been discussed are rather vague. The use of communist jargon in the ideological definitions seems more to obfuscate rather than bring clarity. For example, the party’s new document states that Nepal is no longer a “semi-feudal and semi-colonial” country but rather has entered the capitalist phase. But nowhere is it made clear what this means. When and how did the “semi-feudal and semi-colonial” phase end? If Nepal is now a capitalist country, how does the UML plan to change its economic policies to deal with this new situation? And how in fact is the UML still a “communist” party? What policies does it have that distinguishes it from the Nepali Congress and the other parties that espouse a liberal economic model? The UML has failed to provide answers to any of these questions.

On some issues at least, the UML has provided more specificity. On federalism, for example, the party proposes seven provinces that include inhabitants of mixed identities. It has long been clear that the UML is opposed to federalism along identity-lines, as the party believes that this will fragment the nation. In other places, however, UML leaders have said that they recognise that certain marginalised groups have legitimate grievances. If this is the case, how does the UML plan to address historical marginalisation? If identity-based federalism is not the answer, what concrete proposals does the UML have to address this situation? The answers are not included in the party document. Rather than packing its document with pipe dreams, such as turning the country into a developed one by 2023, the UML should have been more engaging on the needs and aspirations of the population.


Published: 07-07-2014 10:24

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