The ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) has been widely criticised for being deviating from the spirit of communism. The leaders within the party also seem to be divided whether the party should follow the erstwhile CPN-UML’s political ideology or the Maoists Centre’s.
The NCP held the second plenary meeting of the central committee meeting. It is the first meeting since the unification between former CPN-UML and CPN-Maoist in May 2018. The meeting also discussed the political report which defines the guiding principles of the party. In this regard, Keshab Badal, chair of the Central Advisor Council of NCP and Dr. Khagendra Prasai, political analyst spoke on various issues related to communism at the weekly Gorkhapatra Sambad on Sunday, Excerpts.
NCP has not deviated from its agenda: Badal
Marxism theory was developed by Karl Heinrich Marx, who was born in 1818. When we talk what the Marxism should be, if Karl Marx was alive today, he himself would have not followed his own theory as it is. The old theory needed adjustment along with the changing production system and social transformation. The theory was propounded earlier to end social, economic and cultural exclusions. Similarly, the communist party is the group of people who always work for ending the social, economic and cultural exclusions. But we have been making the issue controversial.
When Karl Marx was writing the theory of capitalism, there were 40 million laborers working in textile factory in three major cities of Europe, including Manchester and London. Of them, 40 per cent were children aged below 10 years. They were paid with goods and they were forced to buy rotten breads. The situation was like that. In 1816, House of Commons assigned carries out a study to find why half of the population of Britain was below the poverty despite being a powerful nation. In four years, a report was prepared. It stated that if the government really wanted to build equitable and justifiable society, then the children aged below 10 years shouldn’t be forced in labour, school should be built compulsorily in front of the factories for the children of labourers and they shouldn’t be forced to work for more than eight hours, they should be paid with cash etc. The reason why I mentioned this incident is that Europe was power and was the place where industrial revolution was born. This was the condition when Karl Marx propounded the theory of capitalism.
What we are doing is that we are talking about an alternative price theory. Of the total production, around 15 per cent of the work is done by robot. The relation that used to be between the labourer and employeris now different. When we talk about Nepal, when the multi-party democracy was established in the country, 40 per cent of its population could hardly arrange a meal a day. Similarly, labour wage was too low. But today the situation is different. The daily wage of a labourer has reached minimum Rs. 500 and the living standard of people is gradually improving. This is the changing scenario of Nepal, the country which has per capita income of Rs. 1,148. During the Chinese revolution, the per capital income of China was 27 USD in 1949and this reached 180 USD in 1978. This has now reached 11,000 USD.
Hence, the communists should adopt the changing social, cultural and economic aspects of the country. However, dishonesty, unscrupulousness, corruption and falsification can never be acceptable in communism and this is punishable. It was wrong to blame the communists for adopting changing living standard. Impunity to those involved in corruption and falsification should not be acceptable in communism.
It does not mean Nepal has developed a classless society and there is an end of class struggle. But we cannot deny the changing aspect of class conflict. The saying of Karl Marx is relevant here. We must make a concrete analysis of concrete situation before formulating any policy. With the changing nature of production power, production relation, production system, production equipment and distribution, we should bring about change in our class struggle. The nature of class struggle has been changed in the country after the government banned the Kamaiya and Haliya system and set all bonded labour free.
When we talk about taking the communist movement and democracy together, we need to understand that from the very beginning the nature of Nepali communist movement is different from others. In 2015 B.S, the united communist party took part in the election and the party that had led the class struggle won the election. From the day the Panchayati system was restored, our senior leader Puspa Lal demanded a protest for democracy and after late Madan Bhandari elected as party secretary of the communist party he had forwarded the proposal of unified movement. These are some examples, how the communist had led contextual political movements in the history of Nepali politics. What we have achieved today is the result of the contribution made by the communist in the past.
Regarding the accusation that the communists had deviated from the spirit of Marxism, I would like to clarify that the Nepal Communist Party (NCP) had not deviated from its agenda of putting working class in power. Just because the communist leaders are wearing suits and coat, it doesn’t mean that the party was diverted from its main agenda. If someone makes such analysis, that will be too surficial. The communists had played a crucial role while promulgating the constitution and incorporating the socialism oriented rights. Similarly, out of 17 standards sets by the UN in SDG Goal, 2030, 13 of such standards were already incorporated in our constitution. So it will be a superficial analysis to say that the NCP had diverted from the spirit of communism.
From the very beginning, the leadership of all the revolutions is led by middle class people. Like Lenin and Marx, all the revolutions were led by middle class people. Why middle class people get dissatisfied with class struggle? This is because they can understand both the upper class and lower class.
However, we have to accept that there were flaws in our behaviour. But we need to understand, how many of us have such problem. Almost 70 per cent leaders of communist movement are in right track and 25 per cent have some sorts of problem and weaknesses. While, there are five per cent of leaders who are creating havoc within the party. When a flood occurs, it sweeps away some plants along with the dust. This is the current situation of the NCP. The party should keep correcting its weaknesses with confidence and encourage good practices within the party.
But I am worried that some forces are cultivating disappointment throughout the country, which in a long term could make the country failure.I don’t understand why they are promoting disappointment among the people. There is no country in the world which doesn’t have problem. The developed countries like America face gun and bomb violence in a week killing many school children. After Chinese President Xi Jingping came in power in China, 500 people were convicted for corruption. There is problem in every country. But the communist party is committed to promote good practices and discourage corruption and irregularities. The party had taken action against some renowned person, this is a proof that the party is in a right track.
Talking about the report endorsement process by the plenary meeting of Central Committee of NCP, this is the most important meeting after the party unification.
And regarding the report on Millennium Challenge Corporation has clearly mentioned that the party will not accept any military alliance and will not undermine country’s sovereignty. In such condition, the party welcomes all the grants and support from all countries. All members of the Central Committee members in our group had shown their agreement over the report.
Communists have abandoned their track : Prasai
Communists always favour certain class (labourers, farmers, deprived, ethnic minority or else), group or gender in the society. It’s a sort of inherent belief in the communist ideology. We cannot deviate from this. Class struggle still exists in the world, and the theory of communism is still there.
The communists either have to dismiss the fact that class division exists in the society from its ideology or their manifesto should reflect this. Theoretically, communists always stand for the poor and deprived groups. They collect levy from their members, treat all members equally and fight for their rights but reject earning for haves. However, the option of updating socialist theory by eliminating class division is still open. In China, they escaped from class struggle and entered into capitalism. Capitalists there are enjoying privilege.
In my view, Nepali communists have abandoned their track. Their activity proves that they have already deviated from their main spirit which is why a thick layer of dissatisfaction has piled towards its leadership.
Cadres are demanding that the leaders should make their property public, and group formulation, corruption and other illness have flourished as a culture inside the party leadership, and it has been documented. The document of the party General Secretary speaks a lot about this. Several voices of dissatisfaction were also heard in the latest Central committee meeting too. And it is not just blame.
Except for tiny positive results of regular capitalistic development, no major change has been felt with the revolutionary power that is now leading the government. Public dissatisfaction and frustration towards party leadership is increasing day by day.
In fact, what the communists are doing and the commitments they had made among the people are not matching. Can you answer me how does the ruling NCP generate income for election? My observation is that the limited number of farmers cannot pay enough but the elites inside the party are paying for that. This is the reason they are not clear who they actually favour.
The communists have failed to address contemporary needs of the society in Nepal because they themselves are not updated on those issues. Till now, I have not found the document of Nepal Communist Party was ever updated. Instead of making proper response through result-oriented tasks, the top leadership is wasting their time in blaming this or that fact. Their activities have not only frustrated the people but the leadership is also losing trust of the people.
Representing all the groups in a society is not possible as it is mentioned in the Constitution of Nepal. Clarity is required whether the communists in Nepal believe in capitalism or socialism. Their theory should have answers-- whether the theory demands minor improvements in the society or class improvement. The Constitution speaks of a mixture of both but in reality class struggle does never end. Eliminating class abuse is not possible.
We should understand there is something wrong when the Prime Minister starts talking about its achievements. Micro count indicates toughness.
Yes, the marks of our national sovereignty have increased due to the stand of Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli at the time of border blockade. The visit of Chinese president has also heightened that. The government should be able to counter all the criticism through its fair tasks which is lacking now.
Theoretically, both ruling NCP and opposing Nepali Congress look same to me because they are not clear in themselves. Both believe in capitalism which is why the opposition seems to be jobless in the parliament. The Congress is tolerating communist for now.
The government itself is doing as the capitalists think. The Nepali Congress will awake once the communists fix the class they are favouring. For now, both the parties speak for private sector, no newness is there.
There is no clear demarcation line between the Communist and Congress in the country now. Neither variation exists between socialism and capitalism or in their beliefs. Even Congress does not believe in full capitalism when the communists do not believe in socialism fully.
A concrete analysis for a concrete change has not been identified.
The process of identifying its class and standing for them is a lengthy and tough job in itself. A lot of time and enough passions are required for class transformation, otherwise transformation is impossible. Such change is not possible in an ordinary situation. Several discussion sessions and voting in each level are not easy every time.
But the reality in the country is that the central committee of the communist party is not making decisions, instead it is transferring its rights to the standing committee. Then the standing committee is handing it over to the secretariat of the party and then the democratic process of making any decision reaches the chairs. All the committees look like puppet organs, because they are not able to solve the problems themselves.
Building consensus between the two chairs of the party is not the spirit of communism. Heart matching is not a communist practice. Neither the ideology of Marx nor of Lenin props up such undemocratic practice of decision making. The leaders should follow the party process and ideology should guide them. Party organs have been paralysed, they are not alive. After unification, all the organisations in the districts and other committees were made outdated. Long time spent to conclude unification has caused a gap between ruling NCP and the government. Due to that, the party could not own its achievements and the government had drawn criticism for not delivering well.
The central committee should be able to make decisions thoroughly following proper procedures. Going against the ideology, it is only suggesting the leaders now. Regular meetings of the standing committee are required. The secretariat should function as an active organ.
At the end, I suggest the NCP first to identify its class and then to make it alive. It should follow the natural process according to the party ideology. Avoid making individual-centric decisions; things will move towards improvement. However, clarity needs in its ideology to differentiate it from other parties.
(Prepared by: Arapana Adhikari and Ranju Kafle. Photographs by: Kabita Thapa)
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