KATHMANDU, NOVEMBER 29
With Ishwar Pokharel and Shankar Pokharel getting elected unanimously as senior vicechair and general secretary of the CPN-UML, respectively, and incumbent UML Chair KP Sharma Oli pitted against Bhim Bahadur Rawal for the top post, the three most powerful posts of the main opposition party will be held by the Khas Arya social group. The result of the contest for the top post is likely later tonight.
Meanwhile, UML leader Ghanshyam Bhusal has filed candidacy against six vice-chairpersons named by Oli - Yubaraj Gyawali, Subas Chandra Nembang, Asta Laxmi Shakya, Ram Bahadur Thapa, Bishnu Prasad Paudel, and Surendra Prasad Pandey.
Bhim Acharya and Tanka Karki have registered their candidacy against seven secretaries named by Oli - Top Bahadur Rayamajhi, Raghuvir Mahaseth, Chhabi Lal Bishwakarma, Lekhraj Bhatta, Yogesh Bhattarai, Gokarna Bista, and Padma Aryal.
Prithvi Subba Gurung, Pradeep Kumar Gyawali, and Bishnu Prasad Rimal, who were named deputy general secretaries by Oli, were elected unanimously as no one challenged their nominations.
If Oli's nominee Raghuvir Mahaseth wins the post of secretary, he will be the only Madhesi among the 19-member UML office bearers, but there will be no Tharu, Muslim, or Madhesi woman in the UML's powerful party body. Political analysts said the CPN-UML, which is known for its anti-inclusion and anti-federalism stance, had the opportunity to clean its past image, but it failed to do that.
Political analyst Chandra Kishore said Madhes held symbolic significance in Nepal's communist movement with its history of sending two representatives to the first democratically elected Parliament in 1959 and organising the biggest farmers' movement in the early days of Nepal's democratic movement, yet no Madhesi had ever become even the second most powerful figure in the communist parties, let alone the party chair or general secretary.
He said the UML showcased Tharus' cultural aspects at its convention venue in Sauraha, Chitwan, but no Tharu could make it to the 19 office bearers.
Lalbabu Pandit, who was expected to be an office bearer, angrily reacted on social media for not being picked by Oli for any office bearers' post, saying he would not accept membership in the central committee and would remain only an organised member of the party.
UML gives space to Tharus, Madhesis, and Muslims as long as they support the party's claim against inclusion and federalism, but the day they start supporting the right cause, the party leadership dumps them.
Political analyst Tula Narayan Shah said it was not surprising that no Madhesi, Tharu, Muslim, or any woman leader from marginalised communities held any post of consequence in the party.
"UML caters to the needs of Khas Arya people, particularly those from mid-hills and those who have migrated from mid-hills to the Tarai, as they are the UML's vote bank," Shah said. He said the UML always opposed issues that were at the core of empowerment of Madhesis and other marginalised groups and communities, such as proportional representation system of election, inclusion, federalism, and citizenship issues. "The Nepali Congress is also not much different from the UML in terms of inclusion and federalism, but at least it made Madhesi and Tharu leaders vice-presidents,"
Shah added. He said even the women holding posts of any consequence in the UML were Khas Arya women, and not from marginalised communities.
The UML, which was supposed to reflect microcosm of Nepal, failed to do that mainly because the party had ethnic bias. "Had the UML or the Nepali Congress been inclusive parties, marginalised communities would never have to launch street agitation demanding inclusion and federalism," another political analyst Jay Nishant said. He added that despite marginalised communities' struggle and agitation, the UML had not embraced inclusion within its structure.
A version of this article appears in the print on November 30, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.