The CPN-UML is known for its protracted central committee (CC) meetings. The 15th meeting, spread over 16 days, concluded on Monday by unanimously approving the political report submitted by general secretary Madhav Kumar Nepal along with certain modifications, including the way the party should look at the CPN-Maoist. The general secretary’s report had put the political forces within the country into four categories — the feudal royalists, the bourgeois reformists (the Nepali Congress and the NC-D), the democratic republicans (the CPN-UML itself), and the extreme Leftists (the CPN-Maoist). Thanks to the opposition from a number of CC members such as Bamdev Gautam and Jhalanath Khanal, the appellation was amended on the ground that after they had come into the peace process and become a part of government, it would not be appropriate to continue to call them extreme Leftists.
The modified version is reported to have made a two-way classification based on political polarisation — the democratic republicans and the regressive royalists. This is not only much simpler but also more useful in the light of the core issues involved in the constituent assembly (CA) elections slated for November 22. In another important move, the CC ruled out the possibility of forging any electoral alliance with the Left parties, including the Maoists, except at the local level. This line is expected to go down well with people in the non-Left camp who fear the emergence of something like Leftist bloc for electoral purposes. Significant in this connection is the CC’s dissolution of the party’s existing central-level panel entrusted with negotiating with various Left parties. However, the CPN-UML’s renewed emphasis on maintaining the eight-party unity is well placed, since the present national political reality dictates that any other anti-regression and pro-democratic combination or front should take place only with a strengthening of this unity, not at its expense.
By this reckoning, the CPN-UML sees the need for a republican front and it says it will concentrate all its attention on achieving its declared goal. Only the two Congresses need to decide clearly on this issue. In fact, what the parent Congress decides, the breakaway one is likely to embrace. And what the eight-party decides, the nation is likely to go massively in favour of that. Indeed, the time has come for the political parties to make their stances clear. The CC meeting also reconstituted the earlier manifesto drafting committee for the CA elections. It may strike many as odd that after the historic Jana Andolan of last April, the central committees of the political parties such as the CPN-UML and the Nepali Congress have been taking decisions on the future direction of the country. They would have done better to call, in the true spirit of intra-party democracy, their special general conventions and let the electorates of the parties endorse the lines the parties should take. Given the time available, it now seems less likely, even if the leadership of each party desired so.