Many in UML, NC doubt effectiveness of alliances

Published On: October 25, 2017 01:06 AM NPT By: Roshan Sedhai

KATHMANDU, Oct 24: A majority government seems well within the reach of the newly-formed left alliance. It is something even the staunchest Nepali Congress supporter can't easily rule out, given the strong performance of the left parties in the recently held local polls. 

Out of the 744 local units in the country, the main opposition CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Center) had won 400  in the polls held in three phases.  

With smaller parties on board the UML-Maoist alliance, leaders claim that the left is headed for a 'super majority' in the upcoming elections of  parliament and provincial assemblies.

But  both UML and CPN (Maoist Center) have remained doubtful all along of the effectiveness of the alliance. Skeptics  in both parties are putting a series of questions to their leadership: What is the guarantee that the alliance will consolidate the left votes?  What if it disenchants  left voters? Let's say it did help consolidate the left votes, but what is the guarantee that the votes will proportionately benefit all parties? 

Skeptics in both parties say their fears are based on reality. A group of them, mainly from  UML, argue that there are three strong reasons to doubt the effectiveness of the alliance. 

First, they argue that the turbulent relationship between UML and Maoist cadres on the ground is likely to alienate many voters. UML cadres had become the major target of the Maoists during the insurgency.  The parties have always seen each other as main rivals, mainly given the same vote base that they share. 

Secondly, they argue that the alliance and the sudden announcement of unification have dampened the spirit of many committed leaders who were hoping to get tickets for the elections.  They said  it has already wrecked havoc on  party organization and triggered defections. 

Third, they claim that there might be significant reductions in the number of left votes as Nepali Congress support had been crucial in the Maoist Center's performance.  They said  a large chunk of Maoist votes will go to the NC. 

There is another group of people within both parties who remain optimistic about better results but harbor doubts that it will benefit all the parties. 

Second-rung leaders of UML have long been accusing the party leadership of offering a far bigger share to the Maoists than the former rebel party deserves, in order to break the NC-Maoist alliance. Following strong opposition within the party, the UML leadership on Monday announced that the 60:40 partnership would be reviewed after the first phase  elections slated for November 26.
 Maoist Center has been accusing UML of using the party as 'a dumping site', giving out constituencies that are difficult to win.

Skepticism runs equally deep in the NC-led alliance which was formed to counter the left. The NC-led alliance, which was formed at NC's behest, includes Madhesi and royalists. The alliance has a strong support base in the terai and the eastern and far western regions and might prove successful in stopping the advance of the left, the more so  after the merging of the Bijay Gachchhadar-led Nepal Loktantrik Forum into the NC earlier this year.

The alliance, despite its potential to counterbalance the left, has turned out to be a costly deal for NC.  In order to keep Madhesi and royalist parties on its side, NC was forced to give 14 seats Rastriya Prajatantra Party and Rastriya Prajatantra Party Democratic and few seats to Federal Socialist Forum Nepal. 

In terms of seat sharing, smaller parties look the most satisfied lot. Can these high stakes in seat sharing change their fortunes? One will have to wait until the election results. 

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