West Lafayette, IN, United States, — Madhav Kumar Nepal, leader of the Communist Party of Nepal-United Marxist and Leninist, is the new prime minister of Nepal, following weeks of struggle among political parties after former Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal stepped down from the post over disputes with the army.
Nepal, who lost twice in last year’s elections – he ran in two different constituencies – has a long history of public service, and his yearning for the top position in the country has been well known. He once petitioned former King Gyanendra Shah to appoint him prime minister during a tussle between his party and the Nepali Congress.
Nepal, whose party CPN-UML was part of the Maoist-led coalition government, added to his notorious love of power by opposing his coalition partner not on grounds of principle or national interest, but on the issue of the Army Chief Rookmangud Katwal acting as a wedge to drive out the Maoists. After Dahal, supreme leader of the Maoists, resigned as prime minister, Nepal made his move and got the prime minister’s office.
Nepal stands at a very crucial point in the country’s history. The Constitution drafting process is at a standstill because of constant bickering, infighting and one-upmanship among political parties, while the Terai region in the country’s south is engulfed by communal tensions and the economy is in tatters.
At this juncture, the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML are engaged in dirty politics to upstage the Maoists. Their opportunistic character should not come as a surprise though. In the past, both parties have put power and political gain above all. They have shown no concern – and continue to do so – about the deteriorating conditions in the country.
Why else did they launch a “coup” to oust the Maoists? Instead of calmly discussing the situation and acting in a manner to support the country’s fragile peace and stability, they acted like a bunch of three-year-olds in a candy store, which speaks much of their rhetoric of “responsible politics.”
I have said time and again that we should not use history against the Maoists. But the CPN-UML and the Nepali Congress have left no choice and shown absolutely no interest in correcting themselves, just like the Maoists.
The Maoists do not have friends in the media, the international community or among Nepal’s elite, but still they won the majority of seats in last year’s elections. This fact cannot be denied, ignored or simply wished away. Although their majority was not absolute, people clearly preferred them in large numbers. This makes the backroom games played by the Congress and CPN-UML even more egregious.
At this juncture let me say a few words about the political correctness gripping Nepal’s elite, academics, journalists and others. These sections of society jumped high when it came to protesting against the Maoists and their highhandedness, but remained quiet when the Congress, CPN-UML and others staged a coup to oust the Maoists. Where was their outrage? Is their power grab not highhandedness?
Dahal, Nepal’s predecessor, was not a perfect leader and made major mistakes during his short tenure. Nepal has had a long list of bad leaders, but history should not be used as an excuse to force a country already in tatters to accept another unfit leader.
This is not a personal attack on Nepal. However, his lust for power has clearly exhibited the way he has lead his party time and again into dirty power-grab missions. His backroom plays show that he is not fit to lead Nepal, at least not at this crucial time.
The CPN-UML, without a doubt, is desperate to hold on to power. They should have fielded a candidate who won last year’s elections rather than a power grabber who was defeated twice.