Krishna Jwala Devkota in Naya Patrika, 20 May
Half the world was communist during the Cold War. Today, only five remain: China, North Korea, Vietnam, Laos and Cuba. All of them interpret communism in their own ways.
Just like in Nepal today, communists had once won an absolute majority in Cyprus, Guinea and Moldova. But they are now in the opposition. Communists used to be a part of ruling coalitions in the past, in India, Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, France, Mali, Peru and and Sri Lanka. Today, they are in ruling coalitions only in Venezuela, Chile and Uruguay, but do not have a decisive role.
However, Communist parties continue to exist. India alone has 49 functional communist parties. After suffering humiliating defeats in Kerala, Tripura and West Bengal, communist parties have become object of ridicule in India. In Bangladesh, Communists received only 0.3% of popular votes in the last elections. Even the US has 15 communist parties.
China is a resounding success story of Communism, but Beijing does not export its political ideology any more. It exports only goods.
Never before has a communist party been as strong as the Nepal Communist Party (NCP), born after the much-anticipated unification of UML and Maoists last week. Not even non-communist parties have won such a huge proportion of popular votes as the NCP.
In India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP received only 33% of popular votes. Trump got 44%. The NCP has an unprecedented opportunity to take Nepal forward. The NCP is also blessed with a favourable geopolitical situation, with Beijing and Delhi both supporting it.
But the NCP has to deliver on its promises of stability and prosperity. Instead of lecturing or vilifying the opposition NC, the NCP chairs K P Oli and Pushpa Kamal Dahal has to set their priorities. We need action instead of rhetoric, policies instead of dreams, and actual programs instead of assurances.
How many people will the NCP make literate? How many jobs will it create? How many will not be landless anymore? By how much will agriculture productivity go up?
The NCP’s success will now be measured by economic indicators, and not by hollow promises and populism. How will the communist government support entrepreneurship? How will it address grievances of a section of Madhesi-Janajatis?
The NCP does not need to be a genuine Communist party. It just needs to evolve into a liberal socialist force which integrates social justice and equity with prosperity. It has to treat democracy as its principle, not a mere policy.
There are already ominous signs that the NCP might not live up to people’s hopes. The NCP runs the government not just at the Centre, but also in six of the seven provinces and most local councils. But its elected leaders have already failed. A mayor that puts pressure on police to release those who publicly tortured a young girl on the charge of practicing witchcraft proudly claims to be a Communist. The NCP does not suspend him.
The NCP leadership runs health and education mafia. Who runs most NGOs involved in harming social harmony? It is the NCP cadre. Are Oli and Dahal ready to dismantle this nexus?
Nepal’s Communist movement was founded on the basis of questions, and not answers. It has always been asking: why are most Nepalis poor? Why is there discrimination? Why inequalities? Why dependence on other countries? Seventy years later, Nepal’s Communists have reached a position from where they can answer these questions.