BY PRABASI NEPALI
The usually staid English daily (and close to India) “The Himalayan Times” announced the unification of the CPN-UML and the CPN-Maoist Centre with the shrieking headline last Friday: “New sun dawns on Nepal” – as if with climate change and its dire consequences we were actually in need of a second sun. The old one was doing just fine! But jokes aside, the merger of the two Communist parties into the unified “Nepal Communist Party” (NCP) did not much change the political equation in the country. It did not actually give the country a majority government to the country for the first time after decades – as claimed by the newspaper. We did have majority governments of various, changing coalitions of political parties. What is new is, of course, a single party enjoying a majority in parliament. Why this has to be hailed – especially in Nepal, is anyone’s guess. There are countries, like Germany, where changing majority government coalitions is the norm. The main thing is that a government of any hue – of a single party or a coalition – governs according to the people’s aspirations.
The road map in the unification process of the left parties was not exactly smooth, but nevertheless of consequence:
* October 3, 2017: CPN-UML, CPN-Maoist Centre and Naya Shakti Party sign a six-point agreement to form a left alliance to contest local, provincial (state) and central parliamentary elections. This was without doubt a major achievement, especially with regard to electoral consequences and should have been a wake-up call to other parties, especially the various factions of the Rashtriya Prajatantra Party (National Democratic Party/RPP) and the Nepali Congress (NC).
* October 13, 2017:Naya Shakti Party, led by former Maoist leader (and former PM) Baburam Bhattarai, exits the alliance over disputes regarding seat sharing in the elections. Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal is thus successful in sidelining his nemesis in the Maoist movement. This was probably the beginning of the end of Dr. Bhattarai as a major actor in Nepalese politics, if he does not find a new political home. Currently, he is in the political wilderness.
* The ‘Left Alliance’ wins a majority of the seats in both the local, provincial and central parliamentary elections. The major losers are the RPP and Nepali Congress for their blunder in not forming election alliances, and they are still licking their wounds.
* February 15, 2018: CPN-UML Chairman K.P. Sharma Oli becomes prime minister, without the Maoist Centre participating in the government due to differences in power sharing. The Maoists continue their side-show for power and influence until the final unification.
* February 19, 2018: The two parties agree that the future ideological direction will be guided by ‘People’s Multiparty Democracy’ (“Janata ko Bahudaliya Janawad”/”Ja-Ba-Ja”) as enunciated by the late charismatic [and murdered] UML leader Madan Bhandari) and [Nepalese] Maoism.
* February 26, 2018: Members of the Maoist Centre join Oli’s cabinet.
* Both parties miss self-imposed deadlines for unification on the respective birth anniversaries of Karl Marx and Vladimir Ilich Lenin.
* May 17, 2018: The two parties unify, but for how long [?], since Communist parties in Nepal have a tendency to continuously bifurcate and reunify ad nauseam. In addition, the ideological divide has only been papered over, and the power struggle among leaders continues latently, i.e. the inter- and intra-party ‘internal contradictions’ have not been resolved.
The new-old Communist Party of Nepal’s (CPN) double-headed leadership has claimed that the unification process (of the two parties that is) was “extraordinary”. Pushpa Kamal Dahal, one of the chairs, who still likes to style himself with the nom de guerre “Prachanda” (“Ferocious”), said that this process “was a unique development not only of Nepal but of the entire world itself.” Addressing the meeting of the unified CPN parliamentary party, “Ferocious” contended that the amalgamation had “paved the way for taking ahead the Communist movement and to fulfill the journey of socialism in the new context.” He did not elaborate what the ‘new context’ was, only that an important responsibility had come to rest on the shoulders of the new-old party, since “the unification has been established as a significant event in history for fulfilling the people’s aspirations and taking the country ahead towards economic prosperity.” “Ferocious” also professed that the CPN HQ was continuously receiving congratulatory messages from around the world. This could only be from the now world’s remaining Communist regimes – China, Vietnam, Laos and Kampuchea (Cambodia) in Asia, and Cuba and Venezuela in Latin America. The latter is an especially virulent example of the havoc and unmitigated human misery that an uncontrolled Socialist-Communist government can cause in spite of regional and international condemnation.
The other chairman, Comrade PM K.P. Sharma Oli – now also the CPN parliamentary party leader — was no less euphoric regarding the prospects for Nepal in general, and the Nepalese people in particular: “We want to project Nepal in 10 years from now as a heaven on earth crafted through the joint efforts of humans and nature. There would be a situation in which foreign tourists coming to Nepal would return home praising it.” Regarding the later, first and last impressions matter, and Oli’s unified Communist government could start with cleaning up the horrible mess that is the Tribhuban International Airport (TIA), ordering the Ministry of Tourism and the autonomous Tourism Board to get their act together and promote ‘quality’ tourism and not quantity. Finally, the nation’s national carrier “Nepal Airlines” has, as they say, gone to the dogs (unlike Thai Airways International which started in the same year), and should be privatized. With a two-thirds majority in parliament, the grand unified CPN could literally make short work of cleaning the rot, dirt, filth and corruption of the ‘Augean Stables’ that is modern-day Nepal.
Venezuela: Socialist-Communist Regime’s Descent into Chaos
In this once vibrant and economically prosperous South American country, Socialist-Communist mismanagement and authoritarian rule has taken it on the road to utter anarchy. Venezuela was also unique in the sense that since the “Miss Universe Pageant” began in 1952, it has won seven times (second only to the United States), a much-touted accomplishment. President Nicolas Maduro sought a second six-year term on Sunday to consolidate power in an election condemned by adversaries as the ‘coronation” of an arrogant dictator and likely to bring fresh international sanctions, which will only intensify the personal woes of the common people despite Venezuela having one of the largest oil reserves!The mainstream opposition is boycotted the election, two of his most popular opponents had been prevented from contesting and the state institutions were firmly in Maduro’s hands, 55-old former bus driver and protégé of Hugo Chavez was expected to win these ‘rigged’ elections despite his wide unpopularity.With just 46 percent of the electorate turning out to vote, Maduro had 68 percent of the vote.
His re-election could lead to further oil sanctions from the US government and more condemnation from the European Union and Latin America (except Cuba, also Communist), but which will not deter Maduro and his henchmen. The 14 countries of the “Lima Group”, including Argentina, Brazil and Canada have announced they are recalling their ambassadors from Caracas, a major blow to Maduro. He claims he is combating an “imperialist” plot [the usual Communist jargon] to suppress socialism and take over the OPEC nation’s oil wealth. However, Chavez and Maduro combined to destroy Venezuela’s once affluent economy and ruthlessly repressed any opposition. There is widespread anger among Venezuela’s 30
million people ( approximately the same as Nepal’s) at the collapse of their economy. There is galloping inflation, and basic foodstuff and medicine are not available. As Lenin famously said (in another context) :the people have voted with their feet and have since months embarked on an exodus to the neighboring countries of Colombia and Brazil for basic necessities and medical treatment, including giving birth!
Maduro’s main challenger was former state governor under Chavez, Henri Falcon, 56 who vowed: “I will free Venezuela from dictatorship!” Falcon had only a slim chance given widespread anticipated abstention, the opposition badly split over his break with the boycott, the vote-winning power of state handouts, and Maduro’s supporters on the election board. Falcon won only 21.2 percent of the votes. “These are not elections. They are a farce intended to keep Maduro in power without popular support,” said Juan Pablo Guanipa, of the main opposition coalition. The suffering of the people in Venezuela will now continue unabated under a Communist Stalinist dictator.
The columnist can be reached at: [email protected]