Vol. XLI No. 52 December 24, 2017

Red Star over Nepal

THE big victory for the alliance of the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre) in the federal and provincial elections is a politically significant development for Nepal.  It will have its repercussions in South Asia too. 

The Communist alliance has won a decisive majority in the parliament elections held under the new constitution adopted in September 2015. Since the first Constituent Assembly was set-up in 2008, there have been various governments with Communist participation, but this is the first time that a purely Left government is to be formed.  This has been possible due to the alliance of the two biggest Left parties – the CPN (UML) and the CPN (MC). The two parties, while announcing the alliance for the election, had also declared their intention to merge the two parties into a single party after the election. 

Out of the total of 275 seats in the federal parliament, 165 seats are elected from territorial constituencies under the first-past-the-post system.  110 seats are elected through proportional representation based on the proportion of votes that the parties get through a separate ballot paper. Out of the territorial seats, the CPN (UML) has won 80 and Maoist Centre 36 seats, making a total of 116. Under the proportional representation system, though official results have not yet been declared, it is reported that the CPN (UML) has got 41 seats and the CPN (MC) 17, which together amounts to 58 seats.  Overall, the Left alliance has got 174, which constitutes 63.3 per cent of the total seats which is just short of a two-third majority.  The other major party, the Nepali Congress, has fared poorly getting only 23 seats in the direct election, while garnering 40 seats under PR.  In the elections to the seven provincial assemblies, the Left alliance has won a majority in six.

Thus, the verdict has been a resounding vote of confidence by the people for the Communist alliance. In contrast to the last decade, the election result heralds a period of political stability.  The new government, expected to be led by the CPN (UML) leader K P Oli, has the onerous responsibility of meeting the aspirations of the people for a better life; completing the work of rehabilitation and reconstruction of the earthquake affected areas and strengthening the democratic institutions and values embodied in the Republican Constitution.  The Left alliance government has the golden opportunity to implement a Left-oriented programme for economic and social progress.

The victory of the Left alliance has caused some unease and misgivings in the Modi government. The Indian ruling establishment has always sought to treat Nepal as a junior partner within its sphere of influence. The worst manifestation of this  big brotherly approach was the way the Modi government connived with the economic blockade sparked off by the Madhesi agitation between September and December 2015.  The Nepalese people were subjected to unwanted difficulties and misery due to the choking off of supplies of essential commodities, including fuel, at a time when the country was reeling under the after-effects of the earthquake.  K P Oli, who was then prime minister, was naturally outraged by the stance of the Modi government.

The important political development in Nepal should lead to a re-thinking and change in India’s attitude to Nepal. The Modi government should strive to establish close relations of cooperation based on equality and non-interference in the internal affairs of Nepal. 

The Modi government should recognise also the reality that Nepal would like to maintain cordial relations with both India and China – its two big neighbours.  Like the rest of South Asia, Nepal too intends to cooperate with the Belt and Road Initiative. India should not view Nepal’s assertion of an independent foreign policy with suspicion but work towards strengthening the natural affinity historically and culturally ordained between Nepal and India. It should take positive measures to assist Nepal’s economic development and build on our common cultural heritage.

For the Left and progressive circles in India, the victory of the Nepali Communists is a matter of great joy. We extend our solidarity and full support to the Nepali Communists in their new endeavours. 

(December 20, 2017)