What is true is that none of the political outfits that have broken away from the establishment have been able to expand their base
Hours after President Bidhya Devi Bhandari issued an ordinance to amend the Political Party Act-2016 on Wednesday, at the recommendation of Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, the Madhav Kumar Nepal-faction of the main opposition CPN- UML and Mahantha Thakur-faction of the Janata Samajbadi Party-Nepal (JSP-N) declared their split with their mother parties and registered new parties with the Election Commission. Taking advantage of the ordinance, which allows a faction to split legally from the mother party with 20 per cent support either from the existing central committee or parliamentary party members, the Nepal faction applied for the registration of the CPN-UML (Socialist) and the Thakur faction for the JSP-N (Democratic) with the poll panel. With the split in the main opposition and JSP-N, PM Deuba's coalition has become stronger than it was at the time of winning the vote of confidence.

It was obvious that the PM would introduce an ordinance on the Political Party Act, lowering the threshold for a split so that the Nepal faction of the UML could join his cabinet. The ordinance, on the other hand, has allowed the Mahantha Thakur-faction to launch a separate political outfit. Thakur and his supporters had been reduced to just their central committee members after Thakur's bid to lay claim on the JSP-N leadership was nullified by the EC.

With the Madhav Nepal faction breaking away from the CPN-UML, the five-decade-long political journey between UML boss KP Oli and Nepal has come to a painful end. It will be a challenging task for Nepal, 69, who led the UML for 14 years as party general secretary after the untimely demise of then general secretary Madan Bhandari in 1993, to build up the new political outfit as a major political force when the local and provincial elections are just a few months away from now. What is also true is that none of the new political outfits that broke away from the establishment since 1990 have been able to expand their political base at the grassroots level. Interestingly, none of the second generation leaders, who were directly elected to the federal parliament, have joined Nepal's new outfit.

Although Nepal has said he would take the UML (Socialist) to a new height through a "re-organisation" and "transformation" drive, it is easier said than done as most of the cadres and supporters are still with the establishment, which has retained the election symbol, the "Sun", and has a nationwide organisational base. Nepal has also not come up with a separate political ideology that is different from the "People's Multiparty Democracy" propounded by late Bhandari. A lesson learned from the immediate past is that no political party can sustain without having a distinct political ideology and a strong organisational base. Rather than taking the bitter decision to split the party, Nepal should have learned a lesson from his long-time lieutenant Bamdev Gautam, who had formed the CPN-ML by breaking away from the UML in 1997 but failed to win even a single seat in the parliamentary elections held in 1999. This time also, Madhav Nepal is sure to lose politically as he has parted ways with the UML purely on the personal grudge he nursed with Oli.

TSC exams

Only qualified teachers, appointed after a rigorous, competitive selection exam, can bring change for the better in the community schools.

However, the last time the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) conducted the exams to select teachers was four years ago. The Ninth Amendment to the Education Act, passed by the then legislature-parliament in 2017, had deprived fresh graduates from taking up teaching as a career. The amendment was introduced to address the demands put forth by more than 22,000 agitating temporary teachers in public schools, which envisioned fulfilling 75 per cent of the vacancies in public schools through internal examination.

And those teachers who failed the TSC exam were still entitled to a golden handshake.

In all probability, the TSC will hold the exams within this year. Politicisation of the teachers' recruitment process in the past had led to a deterioration in the quality of education in the public schools. The competition is cut-throat with more than 700,000 aspirants set to contest for 14,000 posts in the primary, lower secondary and secondary levels. With so many candidates chasing so few seats, one can expect only the best to make it through the tough exams.

A version of this article appears in the print on August 20 2021, of The Himalayan Times.