It has been almost one and a half years since the unification between the then CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Center) into the Nepal Communist Party (NCP). But the unification between the two parties at the lower level has not been completed.
The issue of rank has been the thorniest in the course of party unification. NCP senior leader Jhala Nath Khanal had expressed grievances over the issue of rank some 15 months ago.
Currently, another senior party leader Madav Kumar Nepal’s is unhappy after he was relegated to the fourth in rank in the party. On the one hand, the party unification process has been delayed while on the other hand, the Oli-led government is under fire for not living up to the expectations of the people. In this context, Khabarhub talked to NCP senior leader and former Prime Minister Khanal for his views. Excerpts:
The issue of rank appears to have marred the party. First, you were dissatisfied, now it’s Madhav Kumar Nepal’s turn to be unhappy. How do you analyze it?
The life of any leader is itself the solid standing of the rank. Their history determines their seniority and juniority. Seniority and juniority are not something that is gifted at somebody’s wish nor can it be snatched away. It is absolutely an objective issue.
For instance, we formed Ekata Kendra (Coordination Center) in 2032 BS with the aim of uniting all the then fringe communist parties. I was the then secretary of the Ekata Kendra while Madhav comrade was a member. We formed a party in 2035 BS.
I was elected as the general secretary of the party in 2039 BS and led it until 2046 BS. Madhav Kumar Nepal was a politburo member then. This justifies who is senior and junior between the two. Hence, the seniority is determined either by the age or the date of joining the party.
The other parameters to determine the seniority is who held important positions in the party first. Therefore, the party had taken a wrong decision 15 months ago. I am the only senior leader elected by the Ninth General Convention of the then CPN-UML.
Could you tell us about the ‘gentleman agreement’?
Leaders Pushpa Kamal Dahal and KP Sharma Oli had signed a deal prior to unifying then CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Center) into Nepal Communist Party (NCP).
It, however, is not recognized unless it is officially discussed at the party. Nonetheless, we respected the agreement reached between the two chairmen prior to unification, and it should be respected. They should be implemented.
There have been grievances among leaders for not being picked for standing committee and secretariat of the party. Politburo has not been formed yet. Some leaders are unhappy even over the allocation of responsibilities. What do you say about it?
We formed a central committee, secretariat, and standing committee during the unification. Politburo is yet to be formed. We were able to include some of our comrades in these committees. The then Maoist Center had about 5,000 central committee members. We could not include even 1,000 Maoist members in the central committee of the NCP party.
We formed a 441-member central committee. We are forming a national council, central advisory council, and various commissions. We will try to include them in these places. We will attempt to include our comrades either in one of the committees.
The party has been accused of deviating from the communist ideologies which, people say, left the party cadres in the doldrums. There has been dissatisfaction among people in general that NCP-led government could not live up to the people’s expectations. What led to this situation?
Two chairmen had hoped that the party unification process would be completed within 2 to 3 months. But it did not turn out as expected. It was a mistake on the part of the leadership to decide to start unification of lower committees after the unification at the upper level.
As a result, the committees at the district and local levels did not remain even for a year. Not only 800,000 party members but also 300,000 organized class-based organizations remained inactive. Gradually grievances, dissatisfaction, and protests grew among the party cadres, thereby, giving rise to the disbelief in the communist ideologies, norms, and ideals.
It is high time we revitalized the party by indoctrinating cadres with our party’s ideology, ideals, and party-line.
The country has got a powerful two-thirds majority government after almost six decades. This government can do many things if it wants. But the government is not meeting people’s expectations. What is your take on this?
History has given a golden opportunity to the ruling party. The government has to fulfill the long-held aspirations of Nepali citizens by capitalizing on this golden opportunity. The country will slide into perpetual darkness even if the NCP-led two-thirds majority government failed to succeed.
It is an opportunity for all political parties. They have to benefit from it. The new constitution (that) we promulgated through the Constituent Assembly has made it possible. There is no alternative to move ahead toward the new path of socialism as envisaged by the constitution.
Photos by Adeep Shrestha