Unlike the previous year, the 72nd anniversary of the establishment of Nepal Communist Party (NCP) was not much enthusiastic this time. A host of communist parties, including CPN-UML and CPN-Maoist Centre, have been marking April 22 as the founding day of NCP though some other left organisations observe September 15 as its birthday. Interestingly, Nepali Left lack consensus as to on which date the NCP was born. This shows their inherently fissiparous nature, precluding them from providing a united and successful leadership to the nation Consequently, there was not much fanfare on the occasion. Some leaders issued statements as part of formality. It could not inspire them to advance their common cause and fulfil the aspirations of the Nepali people. There are several reasons that made the NCP anniversary less noteworthy. Obviously, the COVID-19 pandemic has upset their mood and restricted to conduct the memorial events. Moreover, this year proved the worst for the Nepali communist movement. The ruling NCP comprising erstwhile UML and Maoist Centre failed to live up to the hope of Nepalis that the strong communist government would give enduring stability, deliver prosperity and keep in check the undue geopolitical pressures. The NCP is now split into UML and Maoist Centre, dealing a lethal blow to the future of Nepali communists which have been playing their critical role in the democratic transformation of the Nepali society.
Defective leadership The NCP-led dispensation was perhaps the last major political experiment after the governments under the Nepali Congress, UML, CPN-Maoist and the active monarch suffered similar fate in the past. This disappointingly points to the defectiveness and inability of political leadership of the Himalayan nation that is known for its independence and bravery all over the world. The political parties of different shades are seemingly aloof from the nation’s enlightenment tradition, insights of our ancestors, civic values and native skills of consensus building which enabled the country to preserve its sovereignty and territorial integrity in the time of internal chaos, wars and foreign invasion. The UML, considered to be a smart and most organised force, is now passing through the terrible moment of its life. Internecine conflict is taking it to a vertical split. The establishment side under Prime Minister and party chair KP Oli has pushed the leaders of Nepal-Khanal faction to the wall. It has taken disciplinary action against them for their ‘anti-party’ factional activities. While calling upon them to return to the mainstream, it has excluded them from the party’s all pivotal committees in an apparent indication that they will not be given a fair crack of the whip to revamp the UML in the changed context. Nepal-Khanal faction utilised the NCP anniversary to up the ante while hitting back at PM Oli. Altogether 15 leaders of the group published their joint statement, accusing the PM of taking the communist movement on the path of disintegration. They have urged all the party’s cadres and supporters to stand against the chairman’s ‘wrong ideological and theoretical line, and individual egoism’. As the two sides have stuck to their guns, they are fast losing the middle ground which can glue them together. PM Oli has suggested for holding early election but the poll outcomes can be disastrous if the divided, dishevelled and ill-prepared UML joins the fray.
Strange paradox It is a big paradox that Nepali communist parties have been divided over the NCP establishment day. The greater irony is that major parties like the UML and Maoist Centre have given the short shrift to their founding general secretary Pushpa Lal Shrestha’s statement in this regard. In scores of his writings, late Pushpa Lal has clearly mentioned that the NCP was established on September 15, 1949. Pushpa Lal had published his seminal work ‘Naya Janabadi Karyakram, Nepali Krantiko Ekmatra Mulbato’ (New Democratic Programme, the Only Main Path of Nepali Revolution) which was endorsed by the third historic conference of NCP in 2025 B.S. He writes: “The NCP was established on September 15, 1949 under the leadership of Pushpa Lal and adopted the New Democratic Programme. Its essence was to prepare the background of socialism by building a new Nepal and by waging an uncompromising struggle against feudalism and imperialism.” Similarly, in his book ‘Nepali Janandolan Ek Samikshya’ (Nepali People’s Movement: An Analysis), Pushpa Lal has said that conscious revolt of the left cadres working in Nepali Congress, Democratic Congress and other groups has laid the ground for the creation of NCP. “Dissatisfied with the policy of these parties, they established the NCP on September 15, 1949” (Page 6). According to Lok Narayan Subedi, senior joint-coordinator of Rishi Kattel-led NCP, there is no dispute on the establishment of NCP till the third convention in 2019 B.S. “The documents related to its first conference held in 2008 B.S. had endorsed that the party had adopted Naya Janabadi Karyakram and was established on September 15, 2049,” said Subedi. Virtually, all left parties revere Pushpa Lal as the founder of NCP and pioneer of Nepali communist movement. His photos are displayed in their party office rooms. But they are not accepting what their founder is saying about the establishment date of the party. What a bizarre situation!
(Deputy Executive Editor of The Rising Nepal, Subedi writes regularly on politics, foreign affairs and other contemporary issues. email@example.com)