NC’s debacle in election: who to blame, what are the reasons?

Kathmandu: Who will be the new Prime Minister- Prachanda or KP Oli? Will the unification of CPN (Maoist-Centre) and CPN-UML eventually take place? Shouldn’t Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba resign from party president on moral grounds for the debacle that the party under his leadership saw in the election? Is it sure coming government imposes authoritarianism in Nepal? Such questions are rife during tea talks and chit chat in news room which carry with them apprehensions, aspirations and concerns.

The successful conduct of the elections to the federal and provincial parliaments have resulted in a severe sting to the ruling Nepali Congress. To sheer stupefaction of everyone- parties, political scientists and analysts, researchers, media- the leftist alliance has secured a comfortable two-thirds majority (with 117 of the 165 FPTP seats in the House of Representatives). The strategic electoral alliance between the CPN-UML and Maoist Centre itself is left in awe.

The proponent and key players’ concept of leftist alliance was therefore an apt decision, while it draws equal sympathy to the NC leadership for its abject failure (and ignorance too) to get any clue of such alliance though the Maoist Centre a partner in the present coalition that oversaw the elections.

Simply speaking, alliance is the amalgam of votes from two communist parties that ensured landslide victory to the left. Going deeper, what made alliance possible reveals the reality which turned bitter to country’s oldest and largest democratic party- Nepali Congress.

NC leadership needs to speak clear

A prominent youth leader Gagan Thapa, following his victory, told media that Nepali Congress needed a special convention in view of the party’s fiasco in the recent elections. Similarly, an intellectual leader of the party Manmohan Bhattarai admitted that major blame goes to the party leadership. He underscored the need that the leadership took the responsibility. However, the leadership has not spoken anything about it till date.

Going further, various sections within the party and outside have pointed out the issues as sheer interference on Nepal Police organisation and disbelief on judiciary. The impeachment motion against then Chief Justice Sushila Karki and blatant efforts to block Nepal police DIG Nawaraj Silwal from becoming the Inspector General of Nepal Police alarmingly drew the attention of the major opposition CPN-UML, which ultimately made UML, chiefly its chatty leader KP Oli, popular. The UML garnered huge support of the people against Nepali Congress, which in a way is now reflected in the election result.

Blockade and Oli’s empty nationalism costs much to NC

The most unavoidable reason that took KP Oli’s ‘hollow nationalism’ to a new height is India’s economic blockade against Nepal. The blockade and the efforts to clear the blockade was so highlighted by Oli that the low-aware (most of Nepali voters are) Nepali took his initiative very positively, which Nepali Congress failed to break and make clear among the voters. If there is anything most cashed in by the left (UML), it’s the blockade. Here lie the deep roots of NC’s fiasco in this election.

The arrogance of some particular leaders within the NC is another reason to blame. They are said to have blocked the alliance with the Madhes-centric parties though the latter had proposed for the same. It is now a big loss that even the Madhes-centric parties have gone to the leftist fold. The defeat faced by leaders like Bimalendra Nidhi, Krishna Sitaula and Dr Shekhar Koirala is a huge loss in deed to the party. They were in fact strong pillars to the NC in terms of the politics in Tarai/Madhes. NC must mull what caused their loss. Only an objective analyses and fair investigation shall make the party to emerge stronger.

In addition to these, the intra-party feud is another significant factor leading to the defeat. It is clear that the defeat of senior leader Ram Chadra Poudel in Tanahu and intellectual youth leader Bishwo Prakash Sharma in Jhapa are its examples.

UML-MC Unification consumes time

Going to the next point, is unification of UML and Maoist Centre possible? It is almost impossible in sight. The intra-party feud that cost much to the UML and Maoists with the defeat of Bam Dev Gautam and Narayan Kaji Shrestha must be observed meaningful here, because they are key figures to bring together the two parties. But with their defeats, the unification obviously consumes time- years. It is also related whether Prachand or Oli become President or Prime Minister or the Chairman of their would-be united party. It will also depend on how eager would Oli, well-known for his sheer arrogance, be to share positions in the new government as well as in the new-to-be-formed party.

Authoritarianism impossible

Now, is it sure the leftist’s landslide victory imposes authoritarianism as NC made it a cheap slogan before the voters? Of course, not. Nepal has the history that abolished Ranarchy, party-less panchayat system, and even monarchy. With this in background, the practice of authoritarianism will be easily frustrated. The victory of leaders like Gagan Thapa, Dr Sashank Koirala and Prakashman Singh obviously gives room for a strong opposition in the house. Despite this, it can’t be denied that some analysts have argued of possible threat of authoritarianism in Nepal. It depends on how political culture moves ahead.

Time for NC to improve organization

Ultimately, Nepali Congress as party shall never be defeated- the ones defeated are the arrogance, short-sightedness and un-accommodative nature of some particular leaders. They must correct their weakness. NC’s whole shebang needs a thorough shakeup, so that the organization would be stronger to perform better to people. The elected leaders as Gagan Thapa, Dr Sashank and Prakash Man Singh’s effective role in the parliament is imperative. NC’s thoughts and ideologies are not defeated, so it is time to reach out to the people again.

Stability of system needed

Ultimately, political stability is not mere stability of government. Change of political attitude, improvement in political culture, and stability of system are imperative to ensure political stability in Nepal. Time has come for bold, resilient and vibrant observation and close study to check whether the political leaders and parties would abide by the commitments they made in the election manifestos to suit the changed system.