Political Turmoil in Nepal: Prachanda's Power Struggles and the Future of Governance

Political Turmoil in Nepal: Prachanda's Power Struggles and the Future of Governance

Dr. Baburam Bhattarai

Reactions to the new political coalition formed by the two major parties in the parliament have been mixed. In a country like ours, where geopolitics is serious, the internal aspect is still paramount. Within a year and a half of the recent election results, the government has changed four times without any administration showing significant progress towards solving national problems. Instead, the crisis has deepened. The main reason for these government changes is this ongoing crisis.

While external parties may play a role in this situation, it doesn't mean everyone else is innocent.

It is important to note that the Nepali Congress and CPN-UML are not the solutions to the mentioned crisis. These parties consider the 1990 Constitution the world's best and are not committed to earlier achievements. They were reluctantly brought to the Federal Democratic Republic through the Maoist People's War and its complementary movements. The primary engine that pulled them was the Maoist People's War. When this engine broke down, the coalition of Congress and UML couldn't progress.

Prachanda's Lust for Power

After the last election, four governments changed, with Prachanda being central to each. There was no ideology, principle, or value in these changes—only his self-interest and associated benefits were visible.

Despite repeated government changes, fundamental national problems remained the same. There was no initiative to address the geopolitical complexities impacting national independence and the economy. Issues like the EPG were not addressed, and there was no progress on constitutional amendments or legal reforms to enhance democracy. 

Our conclusion from this background is that the root cause of repeated government changes and instability lies in the electoral system itself. Prachanda, as a leader of the Maoist movement, could have initiated reforms for a directly elected executive, fully proportional representation, and directly elected provincial assemblies, but he didn't address these issues.

Prachanda has been ideologically, politically, and morally deteriorating. We have observed this decline from the People's War through the peace process to the present stage.

Governance and Corruption

Governance remained extremely weak. Governments changed frequently, and ministers and secretaries were replaced often, but good governance did not advance meaningfully. Issues were raised to intimidate opponents and then covered up. We demanded the establishment of institutions like the Ombudsman to address corruption institutionally, but no attention was given to it. Prachanda failed to achieve anything substantial in the area of good governance.

The country is in economic distress, with widespread unemployment and millions of youths migrating abroad. Industries were already collapsing, and the crisis deepened in sectors like agriculture and finance, causing extreme despair among the public. This led to growing public anger towards Prachanda, resulting in the recent government change, with the old parties, Congress and UML, displacing him.

However, this is not a solution. The leadership within Congress and UML, which has been around power for nearly three decades, has also not taken meaningful steps to resolve these issues. The discourse needs to focus on finding solutions around these points.

The Politics of Utility and Prachanda's Usefulness

Prachanda has been ideologically, politically, and morally deteriorating, which we have seen from the People's War through the peace process to the current stage. In 2015, concluding that the Maoist party and movement wouldn't reform under his leadership, we left the Maoist party and started the New Force campaign. This wasn't done on a whim.

In the nearly decade since then, Prachanda and his party have remained in power, without initiating any meaningful reforms. Instead, Prachanda has been involved in various corruption cases, his associates benefited, and questions were raised about his relatives. This represents his moral and ideological decline.

In a multiparty democracy, when no party gains a majority, coalitions must be formed, requiring agreements and understandings. Prachanda did not adhere to this. Initially, he fought the election with the Nepali Congress and Nepal Socialist Party, then immediately formed a government with UML, only to shift back to Congress, and then again to UML. These actions reflect his character of using and deceiving others. Prachanda's decline and fall are evident.

The Series of Decline

Prachanda came from a lower-middle-class background, which often exhibits instability. While he played a role until a certain stage, his behavior showed extreme ambition from the beginning. In 1986, during the Masal leadership, he bypassed senior leaders and took over leadership at the age of 35, exploiting the Sector scandal.

This ambitious nature was evident as he rose through Unity Center to the Maoists, playing dual roles and promoting his close associates to execute his plans. This led to the emergence of the Alok trend within the Maoist movement, initially promoted by Prachanda himself, only to sacrifice Alok to clear his name later. It became clear that Alok's behavior was merely an imitation of Prachanda's.

His gradual rise in class status saw him become increasingly self-centered and deceitful. Resources and power concentrated around him, leading to his corruption. During the peace process, his proximity to power and resources further corrupted him.

While individual weakness is not overly concerning, weakening the entire Maoist movement is tragic. Now, with the old leadership of Congress and UML coming forward, they lack commitment to issues like republicanism, federalism, secularism, and inclusive democracy, which they adopted reluctantly. After Prachanda's decline, such developments are not surprising.

Although Prachanda is not the Maoist movement itself, the movement's rise was due to our collective rebellion. Yet, the movement's issues and the connected Madhesi and Janajati issues have become orphaned.

This has emboldened reactionary forces within Congress and UML to propose regressive constitutional amendments. In a society like Nepal, with its class, ethnic, regional, and gender diversity and inequality, inclusion is crucial for upgrading democracy. Regressing instead of enhancing these positive aspects is a vindictive dismantling of achievements post-1996, which is fundamentally wrong.

Moving Forward

Returning to the past is not a solution. Prachanda's deceit should not be an excuse to reverse the country's achievements. The solution lies in progressive advancement.

New and alternative forces should build on the achievements and address their shortcomings, aiming for progress. We are striving for this, and this agenda's importance will grow in the coming days.

Right-Wing Populism and Global Vacuum

Recently, global populism has been on the rise, with regressive right-wing populist forces dominating even democratic countries. Their disregard for ideas, principles, values, and ideals is concerning.

The use of social media and digital technology has led to misinformation, causing people to become self-satisfied with wrong information. The focus on serious structural issues has waned, globally reducing the emphasis on ideology and politics.

In a society like ours, newly transitioning to democratization and modern education, awareness levels are low, contributing to this ideological and political decline.

In this scenario, political leadership should guide, but the primary political leadership from Congress and UML, followed by the Maoists and their leaders, have become corrupt, creating a void.

The long-term solution lies in the right policies and programs. Therefore, we are advocating for an alternative force with five 'S' and progressive socialism or socialism based on democracy.

Cooperation with Prachanda

Prachanda's tendency to use and deceive everyone for personal and power interests has become evident. He should feel ashamed to use the same tactics again. I prefer not to comment on this.

After the major uprising in Nepal, we undertook a political transformation through a peace agreement. Among its three main aspects, we completed the tasks of constitution drafting and army integration. However, the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Commission on Disappeared Persons remains unfinished. These three are interconnected issues. Therefore, to complete them, I extended a hand to work with Prachanda and the forces of Congress and UML.

Even now, I am urging leaders of Congress and UML to work together to complete this. Despite being in power for ten years, Prachanda neither raised these issues nor made any progress. We should not be misled by his crocodile tears again.

Dr. Baburam Bhattarai Prachanda

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