The ship of state


The ruling Nepal Communist Party, formed by the union of the former rebel Maoists and their erstwhile UML enemy, has squandered nine months of its five-year tenure.

Prime Minister Oli has publicly blamed his own party for undermining the government. He said recently, “Our party’s leaders and cadre are silent when the government is being criticised.” 

That barb appeared to be aimed at his co-Chair and prime minister-in-waiting Pushpa Kamal Dahal and his former Maoist comrades, who neither support nor censure the government. It is as if Dahal is letting Oli sink his ship, patiently waiting for his turn at the helm in 2020. 

Analysts blame the NCP’s debacle largely on Prime Minister Oli for being out of touch with reality, and making wild and hollow promises. But the other reason is that the two constituent parties in the NCP still have not reconciled their widely different political cultures. 

Says a senior UML leader: “After the unification, we thought we could make the Maoists in our image. But we are now behaving like the Maoists used to.”

Indeed, the NCP is now run by the two Chairs who rarely consult each other, or the rank and file. The UML’s tradition of close consultation among the senior leadership is gone, and its strong nationwide cadre network has not been replaced with a new party base.

The NCP’s much-delayed Standing Committee meeting this week brought the UML-Maoist fissure into the open, with Oli facing much of the criticism.

The meeting acknowledged the delay in truly uniting the two parties, and said it would take steps to correct that. The question is: will it narrow the distance between Capt Oli and his Co-pilot?

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