On February 2, 2020, the central committee meeting of the ruling Communist Party of Nepal (CPN) concluded with an effective way-out to resolve the ongoing Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) debate within the party. It is the major outcome for the benefit of the nation. Moreover, the meeting has boosted the internal democracy of the party which will be an influencing factor for the governance of the party in a positive direction. The future will tell about the depth and the strength of the unity between the former UML and Maoist. But NCP has certainly been energised by this meeting. Initially, the chairpersons, Oli and Prachanda both conducted a self-criticism for not holding the meeting on time and showed their preparedness to listen to all the grievances. Consequently, the participants found an atmosphere where they enjoyed internal democracy. Although the meeting was started with the party chair and Prime Minister Oli's long speech which was framed in a way to tell about the achievements of his two-year-old government. He shared with his comrades that even he and other top leaders are not happy with the delay of the meeting. However, he reiterated that the cause of the delay is not only the government or the preoccupation of the prime minister. Rather, it was due to the phase-wise procedure of unification. Chairperson Oli assured the participants of the meeting that now onward there will not be much delay in conducting the regular meeting of the party central committee. Chairperson Oli's opinion was that because of dangerous propaganda, despite the significant achievements, his government has been posed as none performing. He presented the list of achievements made by his government and some of the indicators in a bid to show the improvements in the economy and governance. He assured the central committee members (CCMs) that the government has not committed any mistakes and will not commit any mistake in the days to come. However, he stated that if there are minor mistakes, they would be corrected. Citing an analogy of scoring a point in a game by chance, he opined that the opportunity of governing the country was not coming to his party by chance. Thus the entire party rank and file need to be cautious to protect the achievements. Lastly, he assured that if there is criticism against him, any comment on his works, that also be discussed and the lacking could be removed. Consequently, a range of issues, right from the government's performance, perceived anomalies in governance, relationship between the party and the government to the party organisation, were raised. The CCMs raised the questions over the working style of the ministers. They raised questions on the functioning of the party as well. They expressed their grievances free and fairless manner, even asked whether the leaders undertake business or politics. They demanded the probe over the property of the leaders. The criticism was mainly targeted to a nine-member secretariat comprising of top-leaders including the prime minister and three former prime ministers. Since the unification, the party has been running by a secretariat and there were grievances regarding the functioning of the party. However, the five-day-long meeting witnessed a diverse opinion and exercised the full range of democratic centralism. The political document jointly presented by two chairs will be the everyday guideline to evaluate the government's performance in the days to come. The meeting was second after the unification of the two parties CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Centre) in May 2018, eight months after the two ruling parties made an initial agreement on party unity. Though the unification was declared on the date of the Madan Bhandari Memorial Day, there were speculations over the future path of the unified party. It was because of the Maoist's past indulgence in the insurgency and their denial of the electoral democracy. However, within less than two years the party has demonstrated its uncompromising commitment to the democratic process as enshrined in the constitution of the country. The on-going path of NCP is the same as the charismatic leader Bhandari had projected while propounding People's Multiparty Democracy. The recently held central committee meeting has shown an example of internal democracy and expressed not only the commitment towards basic democratic principle and protection of human rights and freedom of people, rather demonstrated by its deed. As a democratic party, it allowed lively discussion among the CCMs on various burning issues. Subsequently, it managed to come up with doable solutions. The most remarkable job committed by the 441-member central committee is an effort to resolve the MMC issue. Despite not being included on the agenda, MCC dominates NCP’s central committee meeting. The CCMs questioned the rationale to support MCC. Subsequently, the meeting formed a three-member task force to gather suggestions on the Millennium Challenge Corporation's Nepal Compact. The committee has thus shared the burden of the Secretariat and closed the door of the further quarrel within the party. Since the task force is comprised of the senior leaders of contradictory opinions on MCC, it is expected that the decision would be rationale and based on the facts. The CCMs entered the venue with lots of questions and grievances towards the top leadership. Now they are returning their working areas with a renewed sense of ownership on the party's external affairs. The meeting has again signaled the need for collective leadership as smooth communication would ensure CPN's future. It has assured the nation that CPN cannot turn back to the conventional path. The meeting has been proved to be a platform for putting differences and finding common, feasible and required action for the party and the government.
(Dr. Aryal is associated with the Central Department of Journalism and Mass Communication of Tribhuvan University.)