It has been almost two years since the two-thirds majority government was formed by the Nepal Communist Party (NCP) following unification between the then CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Center). The government has come under fire for not leaving up to the people’s expectations on the one hand, while many tasks related to the party unification have remained unfulfilled on the other hand. There is a growing rift in the party. Besides, KP Sharma Oli seems reluctant to hand over the leadership to Pushpa Kamal Dahal as per the deal reached between the two leaders. Against this backdrop, Khabarhub talked to NCP leader and former minister Surendra Pandey for his views. Excerpts:
The government led by Nepal Communist Party (NCP) has not fulfilled its promises made before the general elections nor is there unity in the party. What led to it?
Parties stand united against an autocratic rule during a movement. The party without unity cannot bring the movement into a logical conclusion. On the other hand, the opposition is suppressed when it is fragmented and the power is splintered. Past examples have shown that the opposition has undergone various atrocities including incarceration, thrashing, and suppression. The fear of being oppressed constitutes a unity in the party. On top of that, like-minded parties also come to join hands against the ruling party. But when the parties muster power through unity and take the helm of the government, by overthrowing the power, they start squabbling over petty interests. Those parties which ascend power are seen rarely successful in the world. The same case is happing in Nepal, too.
We hear about the intra-party rift being addressed and the gentleman agreement. Could you please clarify it?
Capitalist counties are also seen to have tweaked their ruling system after years of experience. For instance, in America, one cannot become the president more than twice. But Franklin Roosevelt had ruled as the president of America four times. Following the Second World War, America changed the provision in its constitution that barred an American from becoming the president more than twice. In the context of NCP, two political powers having different backgrounds formed an alliance before taking part in the elections.
When the alliance between the then CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Center) emerged as the largest party, it is normal to see some wrangling inside the party. There was some understanding between Dahal and Oli before the elections. The understanding inked between the two leaders cannot be overlooked. Oli will head the government for two and a half years and Dahal for the remaining years, according to the agreement letter. The power handover should be resolved by the signatories themselves because it was not signed following comprehensive discussions. Many leaders did not know about it. The deal had been sealed between the two leaving even the former party chiefs in the dark. If the row crops up in the understanding, then only we will speak up. But this sort of situation has not arrived yet.
The party unification is in limbo. No meetings including standing committee and central committee meetings regarding the issue have taken place to this effect. The politburo committee is yet to be formed. The nation will go for the elections after three years. People’s hopes and aspirations have remained unfulfilled. What do you say?
The party should be run as per the party’s statute and system. If done so, the future of the party will be bright. Two parties with different backgrounds and practices have formed an alliance after the CPN (Maoist Center) agreed to go to power through elections. As far as the party unification is concerned, we are at the final stage. We formed the central committee, local and provincial committees. As you have said, politburo and central commissions, and national council are yet to be formed. The party is preparing to form them. The committees having executive roles need to be formed at the earliest. The party will enjoy unity only after the general convention.
What would be the process of the general convention? The UML’s General convention used to be held in a democratic manner.
Processes to conduct general elections would include both the consensus as well as elections. The general convention committee should be formed in line with the party statute while the central committee members maintain that they should be elected from the local level to become the representatives of the general convention while the other group says that the office bearers should automatically become the convention representatives.
Now, the NCP has a 445-member central committee. It might increase. This is, too, cumbersome. It may not work following the general convention. It should be reduced to 150 to 200. It if happens, many incumbent CC members will have to lose their current positions, leading to an intra-party rift in the party. The statute has laid down both consensus and elections. The consensus is unlikely to deal with the growing ambition and aspirations of the leaders.
There have been talks regarding cabinet reshuffle. Are you happy with the current government? How do you take the political leadership being involved in corruption and sex scandals?
The government must deliver as per the wishes of the people. It should not shy away from its promises made during the elections. Corruption is cancer to the society and the country’s development. Those who are found involved in it should be penalized. It should apply the method of both stick and carrot to root out corruption and irregularities at all levels.