The past two weeks have been hectic for the Nepal Communist Party (NCP) leaders. Various rounds of meetings to resolve the contentious issues have gone futile adding to the woes of the party leadership. Although debate and discussion are integral part of any political party, the manner in which some issues have surfaced in the Standing Committee meeting indicate the need of some serious efforts to address pertinent issues. With some of the senior party leaders publicly criticising the functioning of the government and accusing the party’s main leadership for the failure, the matter has further aggravated. Ranging from the issue of $500 million US grant under the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) to the matter of Yeti holdings and Baluwatar land grab, the Standing Committee meeting of the party has witnessed contradictory standpoints and argument. Among other unsettled agendas include party’s political ideology, the formation of its politburo and making the secretariat inclusive. Needless to say, the agenda of critically assessing the performance of the government is also on top. Dispute on MCC The issue of MCC occupied greater prominence in the party meeting. Party leaders are polarised over the acceptance of this unprecedented grant which is being touted as a great package on offer to Nepal in the field of infrastructure and transmission line. Amid suspicion among some leaders regarding the nature of the grant –whether or not it is a part of US Indo-Pacific strategy, the top leadership is confronted with the serious challenge of taking the disgruntled leaders into confidence and ratify the agreement from the parliament. Even though there appears to be an implicit understanding among all the party leaders that the grant will be instrumental in Nepal’s development infrastructure, they really want to make sure that the concerns of national security be adequately addressed. Interestingly, the party has strong support from Nepal Congress to move ahead with this agreement which the opposition party believes is in the greater interest into the nation. Although Nepal Congress has publicly expressed various reservations about series of government decisions, it has given a positive signal in this case. It is also learnt that concerns have been raised over the recent news pertaining to the government’s decision to renew the lease agreement to Yeti holdings. As this issue has emerged in a more controversial manner in media although the Defense Minister has attempted to provide clarification for the same, the party has decided to take this issue to the central committee meeting for discussion including other outstanding issues mentioned above. The recent debates within the party coincide with the decision of Samajwadi Party Nepal to refrain from the government. Expressing its dissatisfaction over the government’s apathy to constitutional amendment, the two ministers from this party have been called back from the government. With this decision, the government no longer commands a two-third majority. While a comfortable simple majority vests in the government, constitutional experts have become divided over the need of whether or not the government should take the ‘vote of confidence’ from the parliament in the changed context. Having said that, all these political developments have increased the complexities of the Nepal Communist Party including her government. Amid this scenario, there is now an onus on the central committee party meeting to take crucial decisions on these outstanding issues of national significance. This requires a pro-active leadership approach to take majority of the party members into confidence before reaching any deal. In this regard, there is an opportune moment for the party leaders to prove their mettle. Amid the situation in which the party has been downsised to simple majority and the opposition parties are mulling over strategic alliance to counter the government moves, it is vital that the NCP sort out its differences with much care.
Public scrutiny Any decision that the NCP reaches will be a matter of greater public scrutiny. Amid heightening speculations that the popularity of the party and its government is under severe crisis, this will be a litmus test. If NCP can really prove that it stands by actions in crucial matters of governance, the public image can be restored. This will in turn have greater implications for the national development objectives the government has envisaged. With still more than two years remaining for its government to prove its mettle, an appropriate party decision at this critical juncture will come to its rescue. It will be equally important for the entire party leaders to lend supporting hand to the government while continuing healthy criticism. Making the party intact requires ample space for the party members to express their genuine concerns should be ensured.
(The author is a member of the Social Science and Research Faculty at NIMS College)