12-18 September 2014 #724

Dahal’s dilemma

Editorial, Himal Khabarpatrika, 7 September

While the second CA is on track to write the constitution by January 2015 deadline, it looks like UCPN (M) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal is determined to disrupt proceedings.

On one hand, Dahal is in political consultation with other parties inside the CA, but at the same time he is instructing parliamentarians from his party to disrupt the house because he wants to chair a new high level political committee. The UCPN (M)’s new alliances with Madhesi and other ethno-centric parties and its leaders’ renewed rhetoric for single-identity-based federalism are also equally alarming.

Some political players have understood this as Dahal’s growing frustration and fear at not getting credit for concluding the peace process. They say he is desperate for recognition, so he wants to chair a new HLPC. But the NC and UML are wary of giving him an active role because of his past betrayals.

They haven’t forgotten how the UCPN (M) first agreed to hand over control of cantonments to Madhav Nepal’s government and then, in a show of power, brought out cadres in large numbers to enforce an infinite strike in the capital. Dahal’s double-speak with politicians, diplomats, donors, and spies during presidential elections and government changes, and his tendency of forcing his own way around every agreement in place have made them suspicious of his motives.

Dahal’s unwillingness to accept his shrinking role in national politics is proving to be his biggest folly. Because of his party’s heavy defeat in the second CA elections, Dahal does not and will not enjoy the same privilege as he did after 2008’s polls. Also, the internal power struggles within the UCPN (M) have made the chairman a laughing stock among cadre. But the NC and UML still don’t want to bypass him while writing the constitution.

Dahal’s main problem today is he doesn’t trust his rivals’ generosity. He needs to understand his power inside and outside the party will diminish if he continues looking for opportunities to mask his weakness.

Dahal’s single-identity agenda was thoroughly rejected by Nepalis in the second CA elections, and parties, including the UCPN (M), who advocated for ethnic states were soundly defeated. The new constitution will reflect this new political reality.

The UCPN (M) still has a political future and people still might vote Dahal into power one day. But in the short term, he needs to contribute positively towards a democratic and diverse Nepal.

Read also:

Missing another deadline, Damakant Jayshi

The architecture of democracy, Bihari K Shrestha

20 years and counting

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