Comedy of errors of communist rule

Published On: February 3, 2021 07:00 AM NPT By: Narayan Manandhar

The very party chief who boasted so much about having two-thirds majority dissolved the parliament and called for next elections, again, to secure the two-thirds majority.

Nepal Communist Party (NCP) is often dubbed as NCP Double. The NCP acronym was needlessly but shrewdly bracketed within the title as there existed another party by the same name with the Election Commission. There is litigation between two NCPs over the legitimate claim on the title “Nepal Communist Party”.

True to its name, when the party was formed on June 6, 2018—after a merger between NCP (UML) headed by K P Sharma Oli and NCP (Maoist Centre) headed by Pushpa Kamal Dahal—it also produced a two-headed monster. The party was to have two chairpersons till next general assembly that will decide a single head.

Genesis of crisis

The genesis of the present day political crisis started with the creation of this two-headed monster called NCP Double. In nature, we rarely find two-headed creatures. When they do exist their longevity is short lived. This is exactly what we are experiencing in Nepali politics at the moment. By the way, following NCP Double, Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) has three heads and Janata Samajbadi Party (JSP) has even more.

When two parties merged together, the two captains told the Nepali public that such an unusual arrangement had to be made for they were flying a jumbo jet plane—not a one man driven three-wheeler Bikram tempo. But the problem with the captain duo is that they have no experience of flying a glider, forget about the winged jet planes.

Taunting Nepali Congress, already dying and decaying Grand Old Party of Nepal, NCP Double boasted of having two-thirds majority. They aimed to secure three-fourth if necessary in the next elections. If one reads election data carefully, none of the three big parties—UML, Nepali Congress and Maoists—secured a majority. In politics dominated by three big parties, any combination of the two makes it a comfortable two-thirds majority. Moreover, the arrangement between two communist parties to contest elections jointly in 2017 was a kind of political match fixing. In the world of sports, match fixing is a crime of corruption. Nepal still lacks a law on political match fixing. Paradoxically, the very party chief who boasted so much about having two-thirds majority dissolved the parliament and called for next elections, again, to secure the two-thirds majority.

Buoyed by the elections results and a pinch of nationalist salt provided by India blockade in 2015, the party churned out an ambitious slogan, “prosperous Nepal and happy Nepalis” and expected to rule the roost for coming 25 years. However, three years down the line, what we are effectively observing is ever poorer Nepal and sadder Nepalis, if not angrier ones. Nepal’s political parties in general and communist parties in particular are determined to eliminate poverty but the problem is that they are determined to eliminate their poverty first. This is also the starting point of political crisis in Nepal.

Double trouble

It is not just the creation of two-headed monster when two comrades—K P Oli and Pushpa Kamal Dahal—joined their hands together they also had a written, but a secret gentlemanly agreement to share five-year PM’s tenure into equal halves. Obviously, Oli got personally annoyed when Dahal leaked this deal, that too in a foreign land. However, they patched up their differences—Oli giving up all the executive powers to manage the party to Dahal and being happy with the executive powers of the state.

There emerged another crisis of a kind—a status crisis—as to who is to be called Chairman Number 1 and who Chairman Number 2? The egoistic status dispute began to surface as party vs government dispute: Does the party manage the government or the government manages the party? Does the dog wags its tail or the tail wags the dog?

Oli was not happy with Dahal interfering with his executive powers. The crux of the matter was sharing of the spoils, on a turn by turn basis, or in aalo paalo bhaag banda system.

The party is vertically split from the top to the bottom with two camps—one headed by Oli and another by Dahal (please note of two-headed monster here as well because party constitution requires two chairpersons). Each of the factions is organizing aggressive meetings, rallies and street demonstrations to outwit the other. They are charging words for words, actions with counter-actions. Each faction is claiming itself to be a legitimate party and other a breakaway group.

But the paradox is that from a technical and legal point of view, NCP Double is still intact as a single party. Where on earth you find a political party that is politically divided but legally united? And very recently, the Election Commission verified this to be true. It has refused to accept any decisions taken by these two breakaway factions. Interestingly, there are many leaders within NCP Double welcoming the Election Commission decision to not to recognize the decisions made by each factions.

Zombie party

When the body is neither alive nor dead, we call it a zombie. Is NCP Double a zombie party? Or could it be an immortal party that can never be killed? The comical aspect of the NCP Double trouble is that there are still some people wishing and praying that the Supreme Court will help reinstate the dissolved parliament and save NCP Double from splitting into two factions. Similar to the blockbuster Western movie called The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, Bam Dev Gautam is taking up the comical character of the ugly. He is so determined to unite two factions into one that it makes you laugh.

One of the distinct features of communist movement in Nepal is that from their very  formative days, the parties have been constantly dividing, sub-dividing into so many factions, groups and cliques that it literally is impossible to keep a count, again, complicated further by their mergers, alliances, and absorptions into a mind blowing proportion. It would have been understandable if two factions of CPN Double had split into original party lines of CPN-UML and Maoists. Some die-hard Maoists are now with the Oli camp while CPN-UML leaders and cadres have joined Dahal-Nepal Camp. One is even more baffled to find many more still undecided or criss-crossing or changing camps—while striking deals. Bam Dev himself has offered to join that faction that is ready to reward him with a party chair. We Nepali people may have turned poorer, sadder and angrier due to communist rule. They have also helped us to laugh and forget our pains for a while.

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