Red card in Nepal

Oct 6, 2017
The surprise announcement of the leaders of the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist and the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist Centre to form an alliance ahead of the upcoming provincial and federal parliament polls is likely to trigger another round of political uncertainty in the country. The alliance is said to be the first step towards forming a unified communist party. The unification process has ominous implications for the current government led by the Nepali Congress leader Sher Bahadur Deuba since the CPN-Maoist Centre led by Pushpa Kamal Dahal is a part of the government while its new partner, the CPN-Maoist Centre of K.P. Oli, is the main opposition group. Though Dahal has claimed the communist alliance does not pose a threat to the Deuba government, the Nepali Congress has described the development as a betrayal. There is reason for New Delhi to worry as Chinese influence is suspected to have propelled the various communist factions towards each other: The dominant party in the alliance, Oli’s CPN-UML, is perceived to be close to Beijing.
The secrecy surrounding the alliance doesn’t augur well for the democratic process in Nepal. The proliferation of parties, their frequent splits, and the willingness of the political class to make and break alliances only for the sake of office have generated instability in government and undermined the credibility of the democratic transition. The attempt of the political establishment to impose a constitution, rather than prepare one through a genuinely consultative process, has compounded the confusion. Lack of consensus over the constitution has held Kathmandu back from building strong democratic institutions with clearly-defined mandates, allowing the influential parties to push private agendas and encourage rent-seeking. The communist reunification process too has followed the conspiratorial approach that has defined government formation in the past. For instance, the CPN split in the 1990s over ideological differences and the Maoist faction under Dahal took to the bush to wage an armed struggle. The Maoists revised the line and joined the peace process in 2005, enabling the transition of Nepal from a monarchy to a democratic republic. The Maoists have split more than once since, with senior leader Baburam Bhattarai even declaring that communism has become irrelevant — Bhattarai is a signatory to the alliance declaration on Tuesday.
The reunification process, which appears to have little ideological underpinning, gives the impression of a bunch of leaders coming together only to pursue power ahead of elections. It is unlikely to instil confidence among the people.
Indian Express, October 6, 2017

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