Editorial: Existential crisis
Writing for the Communist Party of Nepal (NCP) had been on the wall since its formation in 2018. After a resounding electoral victory for their communist alliance, the CPN-UML led by KP Oli had completed the merger process with the CPN (Maoist Center) led by Pushpa Kamal Dahal in the sole purpose of, as it turned out, by sharing the booty between them. It was understood that Oli would lead the government for two and a half years, after which he would give way to Dahal. Not surprisingly, Oli refused to step down halfway through his tenure. As might be expected, the NCP split up.
It is now the turn of the CPN-UML to suffer an official dumping following the expulsion of 11 senior leaders by the UML standing committee headed by Oli. Among those expelled are heavyweights such as Madhav Kumar Nepal and Jhalanath Khanal, two ex-PMs. They were sacked after petitioning President Bidya Devi Bhandari to appoint Sher Bahadur Deuba of the Nepalese Congress as the new prime minister. Once again, the ideological differences had nothing to do with the last split in the ruling party. It was a total personality shock.
The Nepalese communist movement has been agitated since the formation of the Communist Party of Nepal (PCN) in 1949 under Pushpa Lal Shrestha. But while the first cracks in the communist movement were at least in part ideological – for example, in 1962 the NCP split over the debate over whether Communists and royalty could work together – in recent times, these cracks (and subsequent mergers) have in exclusively, guided by personal calculations.
Then there is the question of whether one of the great nominally communist forces in Nepal is in fact a communist. Lately, it is difficult to distinguish the Nepalese Congress from CPN-UML or CPN (Maoist Center). Although all three swear by democratic socialism, in reality all support crony capitalism. Communist candidates are the biggest spenders in election campaigns and control much of the economy. Their commitment to the welfare state is extremely slim. Without greater ideological clarity and a communist discourse, the Nepalese communist movement faces an existential crisis.