13-19 October 2017 #879

Plus and minus

Just because the Maoists are subsumed within the UML, it doesn’t mean their war crimes will be erased
Nilamber Acharya
The surprise announcement between the CPN-UML and the Maoist Centre just after the Dasain festival to forge unity must be understood mainly as an alliance strategy for November-December’s parliamentary and provincial polls. It looks like the goal was to bolster the position of the UML and to arrest the slide in support suffered by the Maoists.

There is also talk of ultimately unifying the party. However, until we are told what the ideological underpinnings of such unity and their common principles and political programs are, we will not know for certain if this will go anywhere.

Even though both are leftist parties, they do not have the same viewpoints on democracy. How the UML-Maoist alliance will go in future will depend a lot on the progress that the Maoists make in adopting democratic values. It is not advisable, in the changed circumstances, to dwell on the adversarial relationship of the past. However it would be morally wrong to forgive heinous crimes and to encourage impunity. Just because the Maoists are subsumed within the UML, it doesn’t mean their war crimes will be erased.

No one had imagined that the Maoist Centre would join a rival alliance with the opposition while it was still in the governing coalition. The Maoists let the NC down badly, repeating what it had done to the UML earlier. The Maoists are also a political force in this country but its unstable character has cost it credibility. The NC should not try to emulate the Maoists.

This electoral alliance will obviously have a long-term impact on Nepali politics. Earlier, there had been an effort from within Nepal and outside to isolate and weaken the UML. It was publicly acknowledged that New Delhi was backing the Maoist-NC coalition, and this could be the UML’s response to it.

If the distance between the leftist and democratic forces grows, it will lead to another crisis in future. The UML and NC can compete, but there will be political instability if they are enemies. They need to work together on international relations, national security issues, long-term development and on the constitutional commission.

Alliance before and after elections are different. Pre-poll alliances have far-reaching impact on politics even if they fall apart. It will disrupt the functioning of parties from the leadership to the cadre level. Going it together is both good and bad.

If it is for the cause of deepening democracy, it is positive. But if it is to usher in a one-party state then it is negative. The NC cannot be left out of Nepal’s democracy.

Nilambar Acharya is a political analyst and former ambassador.

Read also:

Election in a kakistocracy, Editorial

Two Horse Race, Editorial

A 2-party state, Om Astha Rai

Justice delayed, justice denied, Editorial

Stuck with these three, Om Astha Rai

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