See More on Facebook

Politics

Infighting and fissures disrupt Nepal’s ruling party

The Prime Minister has been accused by his party members of limiting his leadership to a small faction, failing to govern efficiently, and displaying authoritarian tendencies.


Written by

Updated: October 5, 2018

Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli, who returned Kathmandu on Thursday after wrapping up a long engagement in the United States and Costa Rica, was flooded with questions over growing dissatisfaction within the Nepal Communist Party, in a chaotic press conference at the airport that more or less sums up the current state within the ruling party.

Oli’s role as the party co-chairman and the prime minister has been increasingly questioned by senior party leaders, some of whom have accused him of limiting his leadership to a small faction, failing to govern efficiently, and displaying authoritarian tendencies.

One year after the unification announcement between two major leftist forces—CPN (UML) and CPN (Maoist Centre)—and seven months after their merger, cracks have started appearing within the ruling unified communist party. The two major leftist forces had surprised many by announcing a broader electoral alliance on October 2 last year, just ahead of the provincial and federal elections.

Seven months later, the two parties merged formally creating a unified communist party, a development that was termed as historic by many political pundits.

Though the two parties took some time to establish the NCP, they worked in close collaboration ensuring a roaring election victory. The two parties, also known as the left alliance, had pitched stability for obtaining prosperity and development during the election campaign.

The idea resonated with the general public, earning the alliance a close to two-thirds majority in the federal and provincial election. The larger credit for party unification went to Oli and Pushpa Kamal Dahal, the Maoist leader, both of whom rose above the petty interest to materialise the merger.

While stability and unity were promoted as key for national development by NCP leaders, the lack of exact elements seems to be taking a toll over the ruling party and the Oli administration, affecting their functioning as well as efficiency. A number of NCP leaders has become vocal in recent months about the growing differences within the party and the weak performance of the two-thirds majority government.

Important party decisions are made at the meeting of nine-member central secretariat comprising of Oli and Dahal. Deliberation within the party has declined as the frequency of the 45-member Standing Committee meeting has reduced in recent months.

“It is true that the party, as well as the government, has failed to live up to expectations of the people in the several fronts because those expectations were high,” said Jhalak Subedi, an analyst and political commentator. “Stating that the party or the government has failed on its endeavours, however, would be wrong as it requires policy implementation and its consistency to logically analyze how a system or mechanism has fared in a long run. While Subedi was quick to point that things weren’t looking good, he said the government and the party still need more time to work on their differences.

According to Subedi, the NCP leadership has failed to deliver on two accounts: first, empowerment of authorities in the local and provincial level in line with the spirit of the constitution; and second, strengthening the bureaucratic mechanism which has put the authority of the government in question due to their inefficient functioning.

“The federal government is still promoting agencies in the district level rather than empowering local governments,” Subedi said. Chief Ministers of seven provinces, wherein six of them belong to the ruling NCP, have become critical of the central government, accusing it of not willing to delineate authority to the provincial government.

Nowhere is the failure of state mechanism more visible than in its inability to yield results despite launching a probe on the rape and subsequent murder of 13-year old Nirmala Panta—over 70 days since the incident. The cases involving the smuggling of 33-kg gold and the murder of Sanam Shakya have also taken a back seat, while the government backtracked from its own motion to put an end to the monopoly of the country’s transportation syndicate. The reappointment of Nepal Telecommunications Authority Chairman Digambar Jha, who was labelled as ineligible to lead the institution by the Oli administration itself, also highlighted the weakness of the government in implementing its own decisions—or simply sticking to their words.

On the party organization issue also, the NCP has failed to deliver as the unification of lower level committees of the erstwhile UML and Maoist Centre is still incomplete.

“It is high time that Oli and Dahal hold some serious brainstorming on unifying the party at the lower level,” Subedi said, adding that the top leadership should think beyond calculation while making such decision.

While indecision over party committees is one of the major issues, failure of Oli to justify fulfilment of other key positions has become another factor for growing dispute. Madhav Kumar Nepal, the party’s second-ranking leader and former prime minister, is miffed with the appointment of the chairman of the provincial committee. Leaders close to Madhav Kumar Nepal have criticised the move, arguing that it is against the party statute to endorse such decision unanimously by the central secretariat.

Jhal Nath Khanal, another prominent leader of the party and former prime minister, has also remained unhappy with NCP’s affairs. Khanal’s position was downgraded to third when he was on a trip to China. He said he was also unaware about the party unification and therefore not in the country during one of the most important events in the history of the communist movement in Nepal.

Additionally, the unnecessary flaring up of the hunger strike of Dr Govinda KC, restrictions on demonstrations at public places, and recurrent controversial remarks from Oli added to growing public frustration, questioning the intention and tactics of the government. These activities did no good to Oli, the party or the government as thousands of people expressed their displeasure over social media and on the streets. Many have pointed to some of the government’s recent decisions and labelled the prime minister as intolerant.

The government has also failed to counter some of the policy decisions made by the erstwhile government led by Nepali Congress Sher Bahadur Deuba—the National Integrity Policy being one of among those.

Prominent NCP leader and the former speaker of the House of Representatives Shubash Chandra Nembang said he accepted that the party’s performance has been lacklustre, but expressed hope that issues that have surfaced recently will be gradually addressed. The NCP, according to Nembang, has come to power amid major chaos, which is why it will take some time for the government to become effective.

“There have also been a number of positive works,” Nembang said. “Nepal’s relationship with both India and China has strengthened. With significant headways made in Transit Protocol, Nepal will no more face situation of a blockade in the days to come. These are major achievements for a nation.”

Nembang, who is considered as a close aide of Oli, believes that the two-thirds majority in the parliament has given strength to the party to work on devising plans and policies that have long-term implications.

While Subedi feels that the growing feud within the party has surfaced among leaders seeking an active role in the day-to-day functioning of the party, Nembang said that party leaders should concentrate on devising a free and fair system rather than indulging on petty issues and passing comments in public.

“People who are questioning the decision of Central Secretariat themselves are the part of it,” he said. “Critical issues should first be discussed within.”



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


The Kathmandu Post
About the Author: The Kathmandu Post was Nepal’s first privately owned English broadsheet daily and is currently the country's leading English-language newspaper.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Politics

Jokowi: World leaders congratulate me

Joko Widodo offers rebuke to victory claims from the opposition. In a subtle rebuke to his rival’s repeated victory declaration, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo said on Thursday evening that more than 13 state leaders had congratulated “all Indonesians, as well as Jokowi and Ma’ruf” for the success of the general election on April 17. He was referring to his running mate Ma’ruf Amin. “From noon to late afternoon I have received calls from Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, as well as Turkish President Erdogan. Ten other [state leaders] have conveyed their congratulations for the big democracy celebration in our country, including the legislative election. They congratulated all Indonesians, as well as Jokowi and Ma’ruf for the success of the general election on April 17,” Jokowi said on Thursday. At no point in his speech o


By The Jakarta Post
April 19, 2019

Politics

Prabowo declares victory, again

The former military man claims poll win. Presidential contender Prabowo Subianto declared victory again over the incumbent Joko “Jokowi” Widodo on Thursday evening — but this time, he was not alone. He proclaimed victory alongside his running mate Sandiaga Uno, Democratic Party secretary general Hinca Pandjaitan and National Mandate Party (PAN) patron Amien Rais, who had all been absent during Prabowo’s first declaration on Wednesday evening. “I declare victory along with Sandiaga Uno as president and vice president for the 2019-2024 period based on [our lead of] 64 percent of the vote in the real count that we have recapitulated,” Prabowo said. His supporters who packed the team’s basecamp on Jl. Kertanegara in South Jakarta cheered loudly and shouted his name. Prabowo also asked his supporters to shout Allahu Akbar 


By The Jakarta Post
April 19, 2019

Politics

Jokowi calls for unity after bitter election battle

Both sides have claimed victory in the last 24 hours. President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has called on members of the public to reunite as brothers and sisters following the bitterly contested presidential election that again pitted him against his old rival, Prabowo Subianto. Speaking before a crowd of supporters and journalists in Djakarta Theatre, Jokowi also called on all parties to wait for the official final tally of the General Elections Commission (KPU), despite quick count results showing he was leading the presidential race. The President said he and members of his coalition had learned the results of various exit polls and quick counts of the presidential election by Wednesday afternoon. “However, we have to be patient and wait for the official recapitulation of votes by the KPU,” Jokowi said. The majority of quick count results conducted by established pollsters have shown


By The Jakarta Post
April 18, 2019

Politics

In Indonesia, a nation of voters won’t be swayed

Change no longer the rallying cry in Indonesia. When Joko Widodo first ran for president in 2014, Indonesia was in the mood for change. Everything about Mr Joko then was about hope and change: his path to power, his man-of-the-people image, his focus on services. A businessman selling furniture in Solo, he was not part of the Jakarta political elite and triumphed at the polls as an outsider candidate. Leaving aside whether Mr Joko has delivered on his promises or what one might think about his opponent Prabowo Subianto, what is striking today is that change is the furthest thing from voters’ minds. If the projections from the pollsters hold up, then the results of 


By The Straits Times
April 18, 2019

Politics

Prabowo is unlikely to go down without a fight

Jokowi calls on voters to unite as opposition claims victory. Quick counts show the incumbent Mr Joko Widodo and his running mate Ma’ruf Amin in the lead in Indonesia’s presidential election, but their opponent Prabowo Subianto is unlikely to go down without a fight. Mr Prabowo has maintained that exit polls conducted by his team at more than 5,000 polling stations point to him and his running mate Sandiaga Uno winning the presidential election. In a quick address to the media, as well as supporters who broke out into chants of “President”, he said they had bested Mr Joko, winning more than 50 per cent of the vote. He cited instances of voting booths opening at 11am instead of 7am, and cast doubt on the impartiality of so


By The Straits Times
April 18, 2019

Politics

Profile: Priyanka Gandhi

A look at a complicated legacy and a possible game changer in India’s political scene. Earnest political activists and regular folk alike will tell you the media fascination with Priyanka Gandhi, 47, is about exotica and dynasty. But when it comes to the latest scion of the Nehru-Gandhi family to enter politics, they may even be right. But there’s no denying the mass appeal, albeit diminishing over the past decade, of India’s most true-blue political dynasty. Jawahar Lal Nehru, his daughter Indira Gandhi and her son Rajiv Gandhi all served as Prime Ministers of India. Rajiv’s widow Sonia Gandhi was the longest-serving president of the Congress Party till she handed over the baton to her son, Rahul Gandhi. And his younger sister, Priyanka, whom he inducted into the party as general secretary in January this year, epitomises the dynasty in all its courage and foibles, sacr


By Ishan Joshi
April 18, 2019