BY MAILA BAJE
If the recent central committee meeting of the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) was indeed a blow to Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Oli, the other party co-chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ is strenuously trying to show that he isn’t the beneficiary.
Buoyed by the election of loyalist Agni Sapkota as speaker of the House of Representatives, Dahal seems content with the reconfiguration of NCP equations. For how long, though? It’s not as if sharing the party leadership with Oli is anything akin to replacing him as premier.
Oli doesn’t look or sound like a broken man, according to many who have met him after the crucial NCP meeting. Things are good and are about to get better, the prime minister appears to suggest. Barriers have been broken, and national energies are being unleashed. If no one else can see this, well, he’s not the nation’s chief ophthalmologist.
Dahal, for his part, doesn’t seem to want to rock the boat – yet – if his subdued comments are any indication. In a speech in Kathmandu the other day, the NCP co-chair conceded that the Oli government’s claims about its performance were at wide variance with the people’s perceptions.
But he was careful to qualify that criticism – if it even did amount to one. “Our intention might not be ill, we might have tried to do something good,” Dahal said before going on to explain that motives ultimately didn’t mean much to the people. This was a good time for introspection, Dahal said, especially since being communists did not automatically guarantee the people’s trust.
While he poked fun at Oli’s short-necked fiddle show he happened to miss, Dahal was careful to maintain that it was not out of malice. He was too busy with party work.
As with that fraternity pretty much everywhere, you can’t really tell what’s going on among our comrades. If they could fake unity well enough to win an electoral landslide, what makes us think that they are bad at feigning discord and division?
It’s hard to put a mathematical framework to factionalism where neither ideology nor loyalty are fixed quantities. For all the gains Madhav Kumar Nepal is supposed to have made in the party, can we be sure how that might impact Dahal – or Oli, for that matter – especially in view of the gaping holes in the Lalita Niwas corruption case that are growing bigger?
Anyone with a passing acquaintance with Bam Dev Gautam’s politics knows that his empowerment as NCP vice-chair changes a lot. Still, can we contend with that fact without factoring in the wild card called Jhal Nath Khanal? Narayan Kaji Shrestha’s election as a member of the upper chamber is just one of the myriad imponderables.
It’s hard enough to keep up with the frequency and swiftness with which ex-Maoists are joining hands with ex-Unified Marxist-Leninists and vice versa without the capriciousness of it all. And if it’s any consolation, those inside the NCP are as bewildered as those of us on the outside. Our comrades must be happy to have the MCC Compact and other subjects to camouflage their real disarray.