Personal tools
You are here: Home News Analysis and Views Nepal Turning To Two-Party System?
Log in

Forgot your password?

Nepal Turning To Two-Party System?

Issue October 2017

Nepal Turning To Two-Party System?

Siddhi B Ranjitkar


On October 3, 2017, CPN-UML, CPN-Maoist-Center, and Naya Shakti Party reached a historic understanding on going together for the provincial and federal elections. It would surely lead Nepal to a two-party political system even though none of the leaders of the three political parties signing off a six-point understanding on setting up their alliance did say so. Fringe parties would either die of the natural death or the three percent threshold they had to cross would kill them leaving only two large parties such as NC and a to-be-new left party of all like-minded communist political parties. However, three or four tiny political parties if they were not to merge with one political party on the right and another on the left might survive making the two-party system still elusive. They surely would play a crucial role in the power game whenever the two major political parties became weak because of their flawed political maneuvers.


CPN-UML, Maoist-Center, and Naya Shakti Party formed an alliance among them to fight the provincial and federal elections together. To this end, they signed off six-point understanding on their alliance for the immediate objective of fighting the elections jointly and then uniting all those three parties into a single party and then bringing other like-minded political parties to its fold. It would be going to be a single left party to challenge the NC party in the elections for winning the majority in the provincial Houses of Representatives, and a federal House of Representatives and then running the administration for at least ten years to come. That is their vision.


It also is a great opportunity for the NC leaders of building the NC party with new vigor for fighting the provincial and federal elections alone or taking other democratic-minded political parties with it, as they have to face the left parties coming together to challenge the strength of NC. In fact, General Secretary of NC Dr Shashank Koirala has said that the unification of the left parties has been the strength for the NC party, and the support for the fusion of all democratic parties; the left-parties alliance has never adversely affected the NC, the news in “gorkhapatra” of October 5, 2017 stated.


Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba has already engaged himself in having a dialogue with other like-minded political parties such as Rastriya Janata Party (RJP), Federal Socialist Forum-Nepal, Loktantrik Forum of Bijaya Kumar Gacchedar, Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP), and its splinter parties after Chairman of Maoist-Center Prachanda informed Deuba at the meeting at the official residence of the prime minister on October 3, 2017 that he was going together with KP Oli and Dr Baburam Bhattarai for the provincial and federal elections leaving behind the cozy alliance between them but still staying on in the government. Is it not a smart political tactic?


Deuba has asked Prachanda that how it could be possible to be in the coalition government with the NC in other words to be a partner with the NC but going along with the main opposition party for fighting the elections. It is a political way of living. So, Prachanda was set to go along with the communist colleagues even though they had been once bitter enemies. Prachanda must have thought that even though they had been enemies they were the communists they had the common goals and thinking.


The left-parties alliance has been an 8-magnitude quake that hit the minds of the politicians that have the conventional political mindset. It has been very hard for them to believe the alliance is a real one. Some politicians have said that it is for disrupting the provincial and federal elections without thinking that the unity of the left political parties is entirely for fighting the elections, and putting them in a better position for winning the elections. Some politicians said that it was an unnatural coalition. How any coalition of any political parties could be an unnatural or natural the politically immature mind could not think of properly.


Prachanda had approached the chairman of Federal Socialist Forum-Nepal: Upendra Yadav for urging him to join the CPN-UML, Maoist-Center, and Naya Shakti Party alliance for the provincial and federal elections as the immediate approach to the integration of all left-leaning political parties, and an ultimate integration to a grand left party. Yadav did not make any deal with Prachanda, as Yadav might have thought that it might be the dream of Prachanda and his colleagues that had at least agreed to go together up until the elections. Whether the dream of Prachanda comes true remains to be seen.


Prime Minister Deuba also invited Upendra Yadav to be part of the grand coalition of the democratic parties. Deuba also could not convince Yadav of the need for him to join the democratic forces. Deuba had been an expert in cutting a political deal. He had made a record of buying lawmakers to keep his government afloat in the past. However, this time, Deuba obviously failed in buying Yadav in anyway.


Upendra Yadav must have thought that he did not need to join any of those political wizards but he could come out as anyone of them after the provincial and federal elections, and he could make his party: a third largest party. At least he had such a hope after the success his party had made in the local level elections recently held in the province number two. The performance of his party in the elections held in other provinces had been least satisfactory.


Yadav had been once a powerbroker especially after the election to a constituent assembly in 2008 when the Madheshi party won the considerable number of seats in the assembly, and made him to be a crucial player in electing the president and the vice-president. Thereafter, he had been swimming haphazardly in the political ocean.


Chairman of CPN-UML KP Oli has already made a statement that would not sound good to the ears of Maoist leaders. Speaking at an event the Lalitpur District Committee of CPN-UML held on October 4, 2017 on the occasion of Vijaya Dashami, Deepavali, Nepal Samvat, Chhat Festival and Losar to exchange greetings, Oli said that CPN-UML needed to head a new government for the good governance, the rule of law, and peace in the country; and Madheshi leaders and the Naya Shakti party would be fighting the elections under the election symbol of CPN-UML; the Maoist-Center had not decided, yet whether its candidates would fight the elections under the election symbol of CPN-UML or not.


Obviously, NC leaders have been shocked and nervous to see the recent political development of the left parties coming together. So, they held the central working committee meeting on October 4, 2017 to discuss the future strategy. Some NC leaders refused to believe the three left political parties coming together and announcing the alliance among them for fighting the elections. For example, youth NC leader Gagan Thapa announced that the CPN-UML and Maoist-Center would never go together whereas senior leader Bimalendra Nidhi said that the CPN-UML and Maoist-Center alliance was unnatural and it would affect the elections. What did it mean Nidhi did not bother to elaborate.


Now, the time has come for the NC leaders to strengthen the party and to end the squabbles among the senior leaders. They have to build up the party to face the left parties’ unity. The chance of the left alliance winning the November and December elections was almost unstoppable unless the NC leaders designed something that would change the minds of the voters or the unification mood of the left-parties leaders would change to the worse, and the left parties alliance would crumble as often did the unification of various political parties for some reasons even in the recent past. For example, the unification of the two Rastriya Prajantra Parties (RPPs) did not survive even for a year. Currently, Dr Prakash Chandra Lohani leads one RPP, Pashupati Shumsher another and Kamal Thapa the third one with the same name with different addendums.


So far, NC leaders had been cashing in what the founding father of the party had built, and they had been enjoying the reputation the founding fathers had built, political analyst and NC politician Lok Raj Baral said while speaking to the anchor of the Radio Nepal morning program called ‘antar-sambad’ recently. Obviously, the current NC leaders have done a little to make the party more powerful and prosperous according to Baral.


In the past and maybe even today, the strategy of the NC leaders have been to create a division among the left political parties and keep them divided so that they would not be able to challenge the NC rather than strengthening the party to make the NC stronger and powerful. Weakening the left political parties has worked to some extent up until now in other words the NC leaders have successfully played one communist party off against another.


As recently as 2016, Sher Bahadur Deuba had successfully snatched away the Maoist-Center from the joint government of CPN-UML and Maoist-Center, and formed a new coalition government of NC and Maoist-Center. However, it had to do with the then Prime Minister KP Oli not leaving the office in favor of Chairman of Maoist-Center Prachanda after nine months, as he should have following the gentlemanly agreement. Other CPN-UML leaders such as Madhav Nepal and Jhalanath Khanal publicly attributed the fall of the Oli government and the left-parties coalition to not following the gentlemanly agreement reached with the Maoist-Center. Whether Oli would commit the similar mistake in the coming days and lead to the breakdown of the left-parties unity remains to be seen.


Chairman of Maoist-Center Prachanda had repeatedly said that the NC and Maoist-Center alliance would continue for at least another ten years; these two political parties would go together to the elections and to form a government, too. In fact, the leaders of the NC and Maoist-Center had jointly fought the local level elections at some constituencies despite the open opposition of the local NC cadre. For example, all NC voters did not vote for the Maoist-Center candidate for the mayor of the Bharatpur Metro City in the Chitwan district in the recently held local elections, as the number of votes the Maoist-Center candidate had received indicated.


After a half-century being the victims of the past party politics, the left political leaders must have come to the sense that they had been the victims of the shrewd NC leaders, and they needed to unite all-left political parties against all odds to keep the left political parties alive and they needed to keep up the public support all the left political parties together have garnered so far, and work in the best interest of the country.


If that were to be the case then Nepal was heading to the two-party political system: the NC on the one hand and the left political parties on the other hand. If the votes all left political parties had received in all the past elections and the elections recently held were to put together, then the total votes were 65 percent, one of the left leaders said. The NC had less than 40 percent of the total votes allowing more than 10 percent to other small political parties.


Listening to the leaders of the left political parties, it had been clear that they really wanted to have the two-party system. They wanted to compete with the democrats in the socio-economic development, as they did not need to fight for the political rights. They had already dumped all the political obstacles including the monarchy that had been the main hurdle to the socio-economic development. They wanted the democrats crystallizing to a single large party so that the two-party system could flourish in the real meaning of the words. They were also for the directly elected chief executive so that the country would have a stable government at least for a certain specific period as the elections would have it.


The provision made in the constitutional law has it that the federal and provincial elections would sweep away all the political parties that could not cross the threshold of winning three percent of the total votes cast for the federal House of Representatives. So, the tendency had been to unite the small political parties into a single large party to stay alive avoiding the doomsday. Fro example, six Madheshi Political Parties had united into a single Rastriya Janata Party (RJP). They shed the regional name such as Madheshi and took Rastriya means national to sound as the national party rather than the regional parties. So, the political parties either of the left or the right have to naturally polarize into the Democratic Party and left party.


However, the alliance among the three parties such as CPN-UML, Maoist-Center and Naya Shakti Party has come to a great surprise to the NC leaders, hit the NC leaders hard and even shocked them as indicated by the statements the NC leaders have made with outrage. Some of them made very irrational statements on the left-parties alliance indicating they had been politically not fully formed.


Obviously, NC leaders could not keep the track of what had been happening in the left parties. So, the three left parties coming together for the elections had come to a great surprise to the NC leaders. However, the emergence of major left parties alliance had given the democrats a great opportunity of mobilizing the scattered democratic parties into a single large democratic party to face the challenge posed by the left alliance. Matured NC leader such as Dr Shashank Koirala had immediately realized such an opportunity, however, majority of the NC leaders were not so visionary as the Koirala had been.


On thing had been quite obvious that if the small political parties were not to merge with one large political party or another then they would have the natural death after the provincial and federal elections as most of the small parties had a little chance of crossing the threshold of three percent the constitutional law has prescribed.


One of the main beneficiaries of the alliance among the three left parties must be the coordinator of the Naya Shakti Party: Dr Baburam Bhattarai. He broke away from the UCPN-Maoist to set up a Naya Shakti Party with an anticipation of taking power in 2018 not really knowing how difficult it was to run a political party. His spouse and he had lost the path in the wilderness of the political whirlwind.


His Naya Shakti Party, his spouse and Dr Baburam Bhattarai in alliance with other two major left parties such as CPN-UML and Maoist-Center could almost guarantee their seats in the federal House of Representatives. His spouse could easily win a seat in the federal House of Representatives with the support of the CPN-UML and Maoist-Center from any constituency in Kathmandu whereas Dr Baburam Bhattarai could easily win a seat in the federal House of Representatives from the Gorkha Constituency in the federal election.


Now, if we were to take a look at the history of the proposed all-parties alliance then we would see that the visionary founding father of CPN: Pushpa Lal had proposed the then NC leaders for the communists and democrats alliance to fight against the then repressive king Mahendra that had taken over from the elected NC majority government in 1960. Pushpa Lal wanted to reinstate the elected parliament and the government and to lift the ban on all political parties Mahendra imposed, and to end the monarchy and make Nepal a republic.


However, not only the cadre of Pushpa Lal but also the NC leaders were adverse to the proposal of all-party alliance for fighting against the repressive king. In fact, Mohan Bikram Singh deserted Pushpa Lal and set up a breakaway communist party. Mr. Singh realized his mistake of not buying the proposal of Pushpa Lal favorably after the success of the joint protest the NC and Unified Communist Party launched in 1990 against the then despotic king Birendra: the super pancha of that time.


The infamous panchayat system would have gone even in 1979 when the students’ uprising turned into the political movement against it, had the then leader of NC BP Koirala shrewdly worked with the left political parties and taken up the lead in the movement the students had initiated. Indifferent political actions of BP had lengthened the life of the panchayat for another 10 years. One fact was that BP had been in the last few years of his life; probably, he could not read the political phenomena correctly because of his dying mind.


Legendary and visionary leader Ganeshman Singh took the idea Pushpa Lal had put forward in 1960 of the need for communists and democrats going together to fight against the tyrannical regime of repressive king Birendra in 1990, and asked all the left parties to come together to join the democrats to jointly fight against the brutal-30-year Pancha administration Super Pancha king Birendra had ran for almost 20 years.


The result had been fantastic as the panchayat system collapsed and king Birendra was confined to the four walls of the palace. The multi-party democratic system came back, and the doors to the fast socio-economic development widely opened up. Within ten years, millions of Nepalese youths got the foreign jobs, and earned a huge foreign currencies for the country and the families, a number of private and State-owned teaching hospitals came into being in addition to a number of private hospitals, a large number of private FMs radios, and commercial and apartment buildings mushroomed across the country. These were only the few examples of how Nepalese had developed the country in a few years after the democratic system was reintroduced in the country.


The fast socio-economic development had been after the abolition of the monarchy. For example, the country has the constitution the people’s representatives had crafted. The recent local level elections held following the constitution had established the underprivileged folks such as dalits, women and ethnic people among others at the elected offices that had been denied to such folks during the 240 years of the Shah-Rana administration in the country in the past.


Four political parties such as Federal Socialist Forum-Nepal, Rastriya Janata Party, Rastriya Prajatantra Party (if the current three RPPs merge together), and Nepal Workers and Peasants Party might cross the threshold the law has set for the political parties to cross for being national political parties. These small parties might again play a crucial role in making and breaking one government or another. However, the role of these minor political parties might become crucial in the power play only when the two major political parties in making would be weakened by their own faulty deeds.


Most probably, Nepal would not have six deputy ministers as had been under the Prime Minister KP Oli in 2015, and would not have a large cabinet as of today of 56 ministers including Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba. It is not the first time Deuba has made such a huge cabinet; he did have such a jumbo cabinet in the past, too. Obviously, he loves to have as many ministers as possible in his cabinet making it impossible to keep the names of all ministers in his own head not to mention in the public mind.


October 6, 2017

Document Actions