Anomalies That Beset Left Parties

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A few days back,  one senior CPN-Maoist Centre leader said that the party was saved from potential disintegration due to its recent drive entitled 'Maoists with People: A Campaign for Special Transformation.’ His remark came ahead of its statute convention slated for next month. The term 'disintegration' signifies that the party is facing an existential crisis in the aftermath of the last election, and the campaign sought to reach out to the grassroots to revamp the party by increasing its members and support base. 

But what is more noticeable is the use of high-sounding word that the leader chose to portray the situation. Here a question arises –  would the party be dissolved if it did not run the nation-wide campaign? Perhaps not. The said leader was merely exaggerating the situation. It is true that the Maoist Centre suffered a humiliating defeat in the three-tier elections held in November 2022. But it has not yet reached the point of dissolution. This pen pusher is referring to his statement to highlight the common trait of Nepali communists seen in their speeches, activities and behaviours.

Alarming words

It is customary for them to resort to rhetorical, flamboyant, alarming and arousing terms to stimulate the party rank and file but such lexicons hardly reflect the ground reality. Last week, CPN-UML chair KP Sharma Oli called for launching a movement against the incumbent coalition government to 'protect the country from being ruined'. "Should we sit idle by just saying mission 84 when the nation heads to a disaster? The party functionaries have to join the movement at a short notice," Oli told two separate programmes of the party. Is the country really on the verge of collapse? Does it require a movement to check its imminent fall? 

The country is not in a situation as depicted by Oli. Of course, it is struggling to come out of recession and handle a number of issues pertaining to governance, enactment of federal laws, service delivery, unemployment, inflation and corruption control, among others. Being an opposition leader, it is natural for him to slam the government and present a horrifying scenario in order to prepare ground for his rise to power. What is true is that Nepali communist leaders are losing their credibility owing to their series of ideological deviations and a yawning gap between their commitment and performance. 

At one point, Oli championed nationalism and on the plank of which he led a Left Alliance to a resounding victory in the 2017 elections. But, when he dissolved the House of Representatives (HoR) twice where the communists held near two-thirds majority, his image as a stanch nationalist leader took a hard knock. So are his nationalistic overtures which barely appeal to the people these days even if they contain truth. With the House dissolution, the voters became disenchanted with mainstream parties, particularly the left and switched to new forces. This has indeed far-reaching repercussions for the communist movement as well as political stability in the country.  

"The government has become comfortable for and bowed before the foreigners on the sensitive subjects such as electricity trade and protection of territory,” Oli told newly nominated party’s central committee members. However, his statement has not gained much traction among the public. The opposition party has drawn criticisms for not taking a firm stand against various corruption cases and controversial decisions. Oli’s attempts to strike a deal on the sharing of seats of National Assembly with the ruling parties have not gone well in the political spectrum.

Being the second largest party, the UML should raise a stronger voice in favour of nationalism, anti-corruption drive and passage of vital federal laws within the parliament. The people are not in a mood to participate in another round of street agitation. Invoking movements and revolutions time and again only degrades their value. 

The communist parties are known for preparing thick political and orgnisational reports, holding periodic national conventions, building tight organisational structures, and conducting frequent meetings of their various central bodies. These are necessary for expanding the organisation and electoral base of the parties. However, it is meaningless to conduct rounds of meetings if they do not address people's problems and concerns. They organise a separate convention to write the statute that sets rules, norms, values, behaviours and discipline for running the party. But there are instances in which the statute's provisions turn to dust when they become obstacle to meet the ambition of top leaders.  

Distributive slogans

The term ‘socialism’ is dear to all left groups. But the million-dollar question is: Have they really embraced it in theory and practice barring some random distributive agendas and slogans? Nepal has seen around half a dozen communist prime ministers in the last three decades. But there is no a credible economic roadmap to put the country on robust path of industrialisation. There has been a tendency among the left and non-left governments to compete for announcing the populist programmes without substantive economic base to support them. 

The communist party-led governments are supposed to enhance the public sector but there have been little efforts in building socialism-oriented economy as envisaged in the constitution. This is why millions of youths have left the country to toil in foreign labour markets. In practice, the major communist parties have donned neo-liberal garbs and followed western narratives to stay afloat in the national politics, giving a short shrift to their stated goals of communism. 

(The author is Deputy Executive Editor of this daily.) 

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