Tables turned

  • A government change now could adversely delay polls

Oct 5, 2017-The Nepali political landscape was rocked on Tuesday with the announcement of the intended merger between three leftist forces: the CPN-UML, CPN-Maoist Centre and the Baburam Bhattarai led centre-left Naya Shakti Party-Nepal. An unprecedented move, this would mean that in all practicality the left would now work under one banner, barring a few parties. 

With this historical alliance, the left now hopes to consolidate its voter base. This should theoretically ensure higher representation in Parliament and the provincial assemblies. Indeed, UML chairman KP Oli has claimed that the new alliance is aiming for two-thirds majority in the upcoming federal and provincial polls. In a country where the work of the government is constantly interrupted by coalition changes and the government is bloated due to coalition demands of inclusion in high level offices, a single party gaining two-thirds majority would surely be inherently more suited for stable governance. However, in Nepal’s ever changing political structure, it remains to be seen whether this merger will indeed actually occur, or how long this will last thereafter. 

The CPN-UML was formed in 1991, when parts of the United Left Front, the CPN (Marxist) and the CPN (Leninist) merged to contend that year’s general elections together. The CPN-UML was successful in the 1991 polls, becoming the second largest party in the lower house of Parliament. The party formed the first government under its leadership in 1994. It faced its first split in 1998; this split probably cost them seats in the 1999 elections, with the party losing ground to the NC. 

The Maoist Centre started off as the CPN (Maoist), an underground party preparing for a violent revolution in early 1995 after sections of the now defunct CPN (Unity Centre) decided to boycott the 1994 elections. After a decade long civil war, the Maoists in 2006 decided to join other agitating parties to peacefully protest King Gyanendra’s dictatorship. Their success in the subsequent Constituent Assembly polls was itself a historic moment, an armed group peacefully entering mainstream politics. The party has gone through multiple splits and mergers since, with Bhattarai himself forming Naya Shakti-Nepal after splitting from MC in 2015.

Now, what is worrisome is the immediate implication of this alliance. Maoist Centre leader Dahal has promised that his side will maintain the coalition government with the Nepali Congress (NC) until the successful completion of the upcoming national and provincial polls. Meanwhile, NC has already decided to form a democratic alliance for the upcoming polls to counter this leftist grouping. Breaking up the current transitional government, or any attempts to block the polls may result in the constitution not being legitimised by the mandated deadline of January 2018. Forming such a strong leftist force has already rallied NC to create a similarly strong democratic front, and tensions are bound to rise within the current coalition government. However, we hope that all parties involved see that the need of the hour is to successfully hold elections.

Published: 05-10-2017 07:45

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