On Recent Developments in Nepal
The recent developments in Nepal have caused a lot of anxiety in Indian people. This article is based on discussions with NCP leaders by CC member, Jogendra Sharma.
IN 2018, just before the parliamentary and provincial elections, two streams of Nepalese communist movement namely the CPN(UML) and CPN(Maoist Centre) declared their intent to unify and fight the elections unitedly. This generated a lot of hope and enthusiasm among people of Nepal. The unified Nepal Communist Party got almost two third majority and formed the government at the centre and in six out of seven provinces. It was rightly hoped by the people there and across the world that the phase of political instability in Nepal is over.
It was expected that the communist government will fulfill its promises made to the people during elections, provide relief to them, build institutions and consolidate them by enacting necessary laws, create federal structure and make rules for the functional needs as per the constitutional provisions. In brief the communist government was given the mandate by the people to lay down a strong foundation of democratic, federal republic with policy framework of socialist orientation based on multiparty electoral system.
The two communist parties declared their unification on May 17, 2018 and assured the people that this was not just the unification of two parties, but it was also the unification of two ideological lines within the communist movement of Nepal. The unification was based on time tested principles of communist movements and keeping in mind the concrete situation prevailing in the current phase of revolutionary process in Nepal.
The leaders of both the streams had declared that they believe in democratic centralism, collective leadership and decision making and individual responsibilities and accountability. A three layer unified party structure, with 433 member central committee, 44 member standing committee and nine member central secretariat was constituted. The road map of process of unification upto the lowest level was chalked out.
Comrades K P Sarma Oli and Pushp Kamal Dahal Prachand were declared two chairmen of the party and Madhav Nepal as the senior leader of the party. As per the decision of the party, work division between the two party chairmen was ensured. K P Oli was delegated to lead the government in consultation with the party. The responsibility to lead the party with executive power and completing the unifying process upto lowest level was given to Prachanda.
It is alleged that all these decisions of the party were violated by Oli in order to arbitrarily give major responsibilities to the members of his faction, sidelining honest and senior party leaders. In addition, he was accused of applying double standard in interpreting the party’s statue according to his whims. He avoided to hold meetings of the highest decision making body like standing committee, central committee which resulted in halting collective decision making process. This led to the non-activisation of the party organisation that pushed the party in limbo for the last two and half years and had almost stopped the party’s unification process and the preparation of the party’s Unification Congress in the scheduled time. Oli was also accused of bypassing all senior leaders and party’s highest decision making body and running the governments as per his sweet will. The senior leader of NCP Madhav Nepal said that Oli after becoming the PM started showing authoritarian tendencies and tried to use the glorious victory in the election through his faction to evolve a personality cult around himself in order to fulfill his political ambitions and personal agenda. In this process the expectations of the people were betrayed and the party was completely side lined by him. As a result, the government failed to deliver on every front and discontent among people started growing. All efforts by the party to correct Oli failed.
In this situation, the standing committee meeting requisitioned by 20 members was held in which certain important decisions were taken. It directed Prime Minister K P Oli to follow socialist orientation in government policies, curb corruption and consult party in major policy decisions and political appointments. It also decided to reshuffle the cabinet and provincial governments in consultation with party. Another important decision was to hold the general congress of the party in April 2021. But it is accused that Oli violated the standing committee decision again by reshuffling the cabinet and making major political appointments without consulting the party committee. This violation invited widespread criticism and discontent within the party. This also led to exchange of documents between prime minister and other senior leaders of the party. The secretariat, the highest executive body of the party, decided to hold the standing committee and central committee meetings to take stock of the situation and take appropriate decisions. As per the party’s decision, 90 MPs wrote to the President Vidya Bhandari to convene an emergency meeting of the house of representatives.
Meanwhile PM Oli issued an ordinance to amend the provisions in the constitutional council to appoint his people in the constitutional bodies. The amendments contained in the ordinance were designed to undo the constitutional provisions for checks and balances. This led to an emergency standing committee meeting of the party, which was attended by Prime Minister Oli also. It was hoped that the meeting will resolve all the issues and the party unity will be protected. Oli informed the meeting that he has not appointed anybody in the constitutional councils and agreed to withdraw the ordinance he has issued. Therefore it was decided that Oli will first withdraw the ordinance and then the letter written by the MPs for emergency session of the house of representatives to the president will be withdrawn. But Oli did not withdraw the ordinance. Soon it was revealed that he had already appointed almost all ie, four of the five major important posts of constitutional bodies. It became clear that he misinformed the standing committee of the party in this regard. This deepened the crisis in the party.
On December 20, 2020, Oli fearing his removal from the post of prime minister by the house of representative wrote to president to dissolve the house of representatives and hold fresh election. As per the constitution of Nepal, prime minister is appointed only after he/she gets elected by the house of representatives. House of representative can be dissolved only if the parliament is not able to elect a new prime minister or/if the incumbent loses the confidence of the house of representatives or/if it could not give the alternative as the final option. Only in such a situation parliament can be dissolved, election will be held within six months from the date of dissolution. Therefore NCP and all opposition parties termed this move unconstitutional and requested the president not to dissolve the parliament. But the president approved the dissolution of the parliament and ordered fresh election.
DEEPENING POLITICAL CRISIS
This further deepened the political crisis in Nepal. The party directed PM Oli to withdraw the ordinance to dissolve the parliament, but he refused. In this background the central committee met on December 22, 2020 and directed PM Oli again to withdraw the ordinance, but he refused again. Then the central committee decided to remove K P Oli as one of the two party co-chairman with 2/3rd majority (315/432) and elected Madhav Kumar Nepal as the chairman of the party and made clear provision of equal right to both chairpersons, Pushp Kamal Dahal Prachand and Madhav Kumar Nepal .The central committee also decided to challenge the decision of the president in the Supreme Court and go to the people and mobilise against the onslaught on constitution and democracy. The case against the unconstitutional act of the president is in the Supreme Court and it is hoped the judiciary will play an important rule and restore the parliament.
Subsequently the party has expelled K P Oli from primary membership of the party. Both sides have gone to election commission claiming the party and its election symbol. The election commission is yet to give its verdict. The NCP held its CC meeting on February 1, 2021 and ratified the decision to expel K P Oli from the primary membership of the party. Out of 433 members of the CC 288 attended the CC meeting and some others who could not attend the meeting for some reasons, have sent their letter of support. The next day leaders of NCP met the election commission and handed over the list of central committee members who are with them to claim the party and its election symbol.
POLITICAL RIGHT WING
This sudden upheaval in Nepal has come in the background of rallies being held against the government across the country by regressive and right wing forces. The communal Hindutva forces are very active in Nepal for more than a decade. They want to convert federal, democratic republic of Nepal into Hindu Rashtra. This situation has emboldened the former monarch of Nepal to become proactive and he has declared nationwide visits and now he is holding public meetings. The main direction of attack of these forces is towards Nepal Communist party. This situation is likely to severely impact Nepal’s politics and even threaten the constitution promulgated with so much investment in terms of time, energy, sacrifices and patience by the people of Nepal.
The people of Nepal have suffered a lot and made big sacrifices during long span of political instability. The extent of political instability was such that Nepal witnessed 10 prime ministers in 12 years after dismantling the monarchy, before Oli became PM with absolute majority in 2018. People’s political maturity and aspirations got reflected in the huge mandate they gave to the Nepal Communist Party in the last general elections. But unfortunately the government failed them. The NCP has been organising protest demonstrations and holding public rallies in all the provinces.They are getting huge response from the people. Opposition parties, civil society leaders and even professionals including four former chief justices of Supreme Court have lent their voice against dissolution of the house of representatives.
Madhav Kumar Nepal while briefing about the Nepal crisis said, “This is a regressive assault on the constitution that institutionalised the federal democratic republic of Nepal as an accomplishment of the people’s movement. This assured socialist ideals, democratic values, political inclusion and devolution of power to the people. Unfortunately, attack on federal republic is led by an individual who was associated with our party.” He also claimed vast majority of the party in all provinces are with the party and agitated against the faction led by K P Oli.
The situation in Nepal is very volatile with serious consequences, which may take many twists and turns. We hope that the Nepal communist movement with seven decade old experience of class and mass struggles at its command will overcome this crisis in flying colours.