Reemergence of United Communists - What Does It Mean For Nepal?

In a country, where split in political parties has been making news, a merger among major leftist forces including Communist Party Nepal-United Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML), Communist Party Nepal –Maoist (CPN-M) and Naya Shakti Nepal took everyone by surprise. This #neftake makes a quick analysis of the history of communist movement in Nepal and provides perspectives on what this could mean for the country.

History Chequered with Mergers and Splits

The Communist Party of Nepal first emerged in the mid-1940s to fight feudalism and the autocratic Rana regime. Over the years, hoping for the egalitarian transformation of Nepal, more than 70 communist parties have come into mainstream politics. However, at present, only 15 communist parties are active in Nepali politics with (CPN-UML) being the largest one.[1] The following timeline highlights the evolution of communist ideology in Nepal:

Year Event
1948 Formation of Communist Party of Nepal
1960 Dissolution of all parties by King Mahendra, which lasted decades 
1990 Merger between CPN( Marxist) and CPN (Marxist Leninist) to form CPN (United Marxist Leninist)
1994 Evolution of CPN (UML)as the largest party in general election  
1994 Formation of CPN Maoist by Puspa Kamal Dahal 
1996 Start of people's war 
2006 End of people's war and entry of CPN Maoist into mainstream politics 
2008 Emergence of CPN Maoist as the largest party in Constitution Assembly
2016 Formation of Naya Shakti Nepal led by Baburam Bhattrai
2017 Announcement of merger among CPN (UML), CPN (Maoist) and Naya Shakti Nepal

However, given the context of animosity between the different forces, this merger is unprecedented.

What could be the motivation for such a political alliance?

The breaking and forming of communist alliances in Nepal is not new, with the notable alliance between CPN (Marxist) and CPN (Marxist Leninist) in 1990. The alliance helped the newly formed CPN (UML) to become the largest socio-democratic party of Nepal in the general election of 1994.[2] With the new phase of parliamentary and provincial elections around the corner, the motivation behind the present day alliance between CPN (UML), CPN (Maoist) and Naya Shakti Nepal seems to allegedly be to further degenerate the position of Nepali Congress (NC) and establish a single party system in Nepal, which all communist parties aspire to.  

The socio-political ambitions of the alliance are highlighted below:

1.       To devise a common election manifesto and win the upcoming parliamentary and provincial elections by securing a majority.

2.       To amend the constitution, providing space for a President who is granted impunity.

3.       To push for the socialist transformation of society.

Is this bad news for the economy and economic growth?

With the nation seemingly heading towards a single party system, the potential economic repercussions are discussed below:

Will Private sector investment still be interested? Government is primarily responsible for the required economic growth in a pure socialist economy as means of production are governed by the state. However, learning from the history of other communist regimes, it will not be a feasible idea to preclude private investors from the economic playground. In countries that operate under single party or majority communist governments, the state along with political protégés play a big role in running businesses, thereby impacting the culture of entrepreneurship. A country that has been reeling under rent seeking mindset may find another excuse not to promote entrepreneurial culture.

Will Crony capitalism perpetuate?The adoption of a one party regime can perpetuate and institutional the current practices of crony capitalism. It will be easy for political elites to collude with businessman and seek private gains. Considering the historical and current political events, crony capitalism is a very plausible outcome for the Nepali economy.

Will Transparency be further challenged?When the state is under the control of a one-party regime, transparency becomes an issue. When even a multiparty democratic system has not been able to promote transparency, one can only imagine how transparent Nepali politics and economy will be when it gets ruled by a single party with no opposition in place.

Will they transform or perpetuate their current practices?

In conclusion, the formation of this alliance will put Nepal once again under a scanner as the business and investment environment will be impacted negatively. The onus will be on the newly formed alliance to prove they are here to transform themselves and change the way they perceive economics and economic growth. Interesting times to follow.

[1] “List of communist parties in Nepal” Communism in Nepal


[2] Gautam, Kul. “A Nepali Enigma: Why Communist Ideology is Still Popular in Nepal” accessed October 4, 2017.   

Photo credit: The kathmandu Post

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