Sunday, 25 February, 2024

Second Generation Leaders’ Move Betrayal Of Trust

Second Generation Leaders’ Move Betrayal Of Trust

Narayan Upadhyay

When the split in the erstwhile ruling party, NCP (UML), was about to take effect, the second-generation leaders backtracked from their association with leader Madhav Kumar Nepal, dismaying many communists and others in the country. The actions of these purported Third Current (Tesro Dhar) leaders were nothing short of a stabbing on the back of leader Nepal, who was later compelled to sail through choppy water to form a new communist party, with the support of other 58 central committee members as well as 23 parliamentarians from the UML.
Following the UML division, Nepali media are now replete with stories stemming from the betrayal of second-rung leaders, who had earlier 'incited' Nepal to create a new party, as they could not 'stay alongside UML chair KP Sharma Oli.'

These leaders, who shied away from backing Nepal at the last minute, apparently developed feet of clay. They did not ally with Nepal when the time of forming the party, the NCP (Unified Socialist) arrived. They must have dreaded that they would face the same fate the leaders of the breakaway Marxist Leninist (ML) had suffered after Bam Dev Gautam engineered a split in the then UML in 2054 BS. Nowadays, they have now been accusing leader Nepal of severing the party into two. They have maintained that they had not supported the idea of breaking the party, thus they stayed back in the UML.

However, facts speak louder than these leaders' remarks. In a programme, leader Nepal revealed that the second-rung leaders were the ones who had incited him to form a new party from the time the erstwhile ruling NCP started developing cracks. Some of these leaders, Nepal accused, had already created new parties and registered them at the Election Commission much before Nepal formed the breakaway party.

The revelation indicated that the youth leaders were wholly desperate to leave the UML by making up a new party. Because of this, they coaxed leader Nepal to take an extreme step to break the UML. But when it was time to announce the new party, they showed their back to leader Nepal and his supporters, invoking high-pitched diatribes against these fugitives who trembled when the time to severe relations with Oli came calling. To corroborate their move to backpedal from Nepal’s alliance, the second-rung leaders said they had a change of heart that did not allow them to part ways with the mother party.

There is a lingering question regarding their 'betrayal to Nepal' that begs an answer. If they preferred to keep party unity intact, then why did they form and register a new party much before the Nepal-led faction moved away from the UML? Is it not a cardinal sin to establish a new party while they were still the members of the mother party?

The leaders of the so-called Third Current - Bhim Rawal, Astha Laxmi Shakya, Yuva Raj Gyawali, Bhim Acharya, Ghanshyam Bhusal, Gokarna Bista, Surendra Pandey, Raghuji Panta and Yogesh Bhattarai have tossed another reason to defend their move to stay in the UML -- the implementation of the 10-point agreement between the Nepal and Oli factions. They wanted a full implementation of the agreement, which consisted of a provision that called for the UML chair to revert the party to the status of Jestha 2, 2075 B. S. when the party had not merged with the Maoist Centre to create a single communist party, the NCP. 

However, the Nepal group, barring several second-generation leaders, did not appreciate the tone and tenor of the accord, and thus stood away from it. The Nepal side asserted that the 10-point deal was a red herring from Oli's faction. They accused Oli of failing to deliver on his commitments for the umpteenth time and of not respecting past settlements. They suspected Oli would do the same with this understanding. The demands of the Nepal group that leader Nepal be granted equal status enjoyed by Oli and should have the right to make major decisions of the party. This demand has, however, fallen on the deaf ears of Oli.

The 10-point agreement served as a face-saving mantra for the second-rung leaders to remain in the UML. However, there is another side of the coin: Oli offered attractive positions in the party or the provincial governments to the second rung leaders who were a few weeks ago looked upon as a spine of leader Nepal's group. Two of these leaders, Astha Laxmi Shakya and Bhim Acharya, have been appointed chief ministers in Bagmati and Province 1, respectively. Oli offered Shakya and Acharya lucrative positions for showing loyalty to him. However, given the changing political equation following the creation of the NCP (Unified Socialist), Shakya and Acharya may lose their positions because the pro-Nepal parliamentarians in these provinces would not cast their trust vote for them.

Likewise, leader Rawal, an outspoken critic of Oli a few weeks ago, is said to have been offered the deputy chair's position. In due course, Oli will dole out lucrative positions to other second-generation leaders for showing loyalty to him at an exceedingly crucial time. Despite having a new allegiance to Oli, these leaders will have a testing time at the UML. Since they know the party chair for his erratic working style, they do also realise that Oli is less likely to listen to these leaders while sorting out crucial party matters. Oli will follow the suggestions put forth by many of his confidants, such as Bishnu Paudel, Subas Nembang and Ishwor Pokhrel, instead of these new loyalists.

Oli tends to move to any excess to secure his and his cronies' position in the party. The past and present instances prove that no one can bring reforms in Oli's working style. The second-generation leaders who had earlier denounced Oli for running the UML at will now have to endure Oli's whimsical style. Though until a few weeks ago they had castigated him for his dictatorial approach, now they will have to embrace the diktats of the party chair. All of this has come to them at the cost of their deception to leader Nepal, who did his best to protect the interests of these ‘back-stabbing’ leaders when they stayed under the same roof at the UML.

(Upadhyay is managing editor at TRN.