It’s a sea of red. At first appearance, it could easily be mistaken for a communist gathering in China, or for that matter any other communist country.
The Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist, or CPN-UML, as it is officially known, began its first ever statute conference on Friday with a bang and a slew of ceremonial pomp and circumstance. KP Sharma Oli, the party’s chairman, was at the centre of everything.
There was no doubt that the gathering was intended to lay the groundwork for Oli to continue as the party’s leader for for another term, unopposed.
It was Oli who officially opened the Nepali Communist Party’s statute congress in Godavari, on the Valley’s southeastern rim. Oli’s political document was presented in front of approximately 6,000 representatives who had come on the Capital from throughout the country. Several members of the party’s Standing Committee and Central Committee have already endorsed Oli’s political document.
A flurry of photographers and selfie-takers flocked to Oli’s newly erected conference hall in Godavari, where his cardboard cutouts were strategically placed all about the space. Even the labels on water bottles featured Oli, whom party members have recently begun referring to as “baa,” which is Arabic for “father.”
The statute congress, which will take place from October 1-3, is being organised in advance of the party’s general convention, which will take place from November 18-22.
In the eyes of observers, some of the key messages that the UML is attempting to send out are crystal clear: that there is no alternative to Oli as the party’s leader, that the UML is the only “true” democratic communist party, and that the party will make a triumphant return in the upcoming general election.
Oli was the one who guided the party to victory in the most recent elections, which were held in 2017. After the United Maoist League and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre) combined in May 2018, Oli was unable to govern for the entire term despite having a solid majority.
He was removed from office by the Supreme Court on July 12 following his decision to dissolve the House of Representatives on May 21, which was his second such decision in six months. While the Supreme Court has ruled that the action was unlawful, neither Oli nor his party members are willing to admit that the decision was a violation of the Constitution.
The Supreme Court of India intervened in a divorce between the United Maoist League and the Maoist Centre in March of this year. The UML’s statute congress is being conducted immediately following a split within the party, as Madhav Kumar Nepal, who had headed the communist party for 15 years, decided to break away and start a new party, the Communist Party of Nepal (CPN) (Unified Socialist).
The Maoist Centre and the Communist Party of Nepal (CPN) (Unified Socialist) are currently supporting the administration led by Sher Bahadur Deuba, the president of the Nepali Congress.
The United Mine Workers (UML) has said that the current government is the result of an unholy alliance that was installed by the Supreme Court. And, through the statute congress, the party hopes to strengthen its position in the struggle against the ruling alliance by presenting itself as a formidable adversary with an eye toward the upcoming elections.
“The UML is transitioning from being a cadre-based party to to a mass-based party, and this new congress lays the groundwork for that transformation,” said Hari Roka, a political analyst. The fact that it is departing from Leninism, which advocates for a communal leadership, is also demonstrated. Oli is now the ‘leadership,’ Oli is the ultimate leader,” says the author.
On Friday, three different documents were presented, one of which was written by Oli. Party General Secretary Ishwar Pokhrel delivered a presentation on the party’s organisational structure, while Deputy General Secretary Bishnu Poudel delivered a presentation on a proposal to change the party’s constitution. Both the documents produced by Pokhrel and Poudel have previously received the approval of the party’s Standing Committee and Central Committee.
“What has become evident is that Oli’s party has not renounced Leninism, which has been a key philosophy of the party since its inception,” Roka explained. “It looks that the UML is attempting to establish a massive organisational structure through this convention. The absence of collective leadership will be felt, as UML will almost certainly be a party led by an individual.”
The party has pledged to treble its membership and to adopt the People’s Multiparty Democracy (PMD) philosophy advocated by the late Madan Bhandari as its guiding principle in the coming years.
The party’s statute congress on Friday opened with the phrase “People’s Multiparty Democracy,” which is interpreted as an affirmation that the party will adhere to its ideology despite the fact that there are some voices, however small, that the party needs to move forward.
Also, the UML is putting out a strong case for People’s Multiparty Democracy in order to put the CPN (Unified Socialist) in a tizzy, as the latter has been harping on the same political doctrine for quite some time.
According to observers, the UML is attempting to portray itself as the sole democratic communist party in the country because Oli received a great deal of criticism for his mistakes while in office.
Leaders of the United Communist League (UML) claim that the essence of People’s Multiparty Democracy is democratisation of the communist movement, politics, and society. Additionally, they consider Oli to be the “one proper candidate” who can take the party in the right direction by adhering to this basic belief.
Critics, on the other hand, question whether the UML is creating a contradiction by promoting Oli to the position of unchallenged leader while also emphasising the importance of democratisation. Observers have noted that the UML appears to be establishing the Oli cult, which they find intriguing.
A total of 69 people were chosen to the position of party chair during the ninth general convention in July 2014. Oli, a long-time communist leader, has had a modest ascent to the top of the political ladder.
He began his political career in 1966 as an opponent of the then-Panchayat regime and later became a member of the Communist Party of Nepal (CPN). Among those communist leaders who killed persons they labelled as “class enemies” was Mao Zedong, who carried out a similar practise when the Maoists launched their “people’s war” in 1996. He was imprisoned for 14 years, from 1973 to 1987, for his involvement in a demonstration against the Panchayat system.
He was elected to the House of Representatives from Jhapa in 1990, following the restoration of democracy in the country. He then went on to serve as both the home minister and the minister of foreign affairs. In 2008, he suffered a setback when he was defeated in the inaugural Constituent Assembly elections. However, he made a return when he was elected president in 2013. After a year, he was successful in winning the election to become the party’s chairman. His rise to prominence in Nepali politics during the period leading up to the promulgation of the constitution was well documented. He was appointed prime minister for the first time in October 2015, following the adoption of Nepal’s new constitution. As a result of an Indian-imposed border embargo, Oli has turned his attention to China. Over the course of his journeys to Beijing, he signed numerous accords, which he described as an attempt to free Nepal from India’s control.
Oli was elected president in 2017 on the platform of ultranationalist nationalism.
It was at this point that he began to position himself as the most powerful political leader in Nepal. Since Oli’s return to power as the country’s strongest prime minister in February 2018, the personality cult that has grown around him has been a work in progress.
Those who are familiar with Oli’s personality believe that the communist leader has an incredible ability to hold the court, directing any conversation towards himself and placing himself as the centre of attention.
According to the UML’s statute congress, the Oli cult appears to be poised to take another step forward, as party members are determined to elevate their “beloved leader” above the institution. Observers can see how the Oli cult is taking shape within the party by the spectacle and adulation lavished upon him in recent months, as well as the respectful documentary about the leader shown on Friday at the party’s statutory convention.
As a result of his political document, Oli has taken a hard line towards communist leaders such as Madhav Kumar Nepal and Pushpa Kamal Dahal, chairman of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre).
Despite the fact that both of his judgments to dissolve the House were reversed by the Supreme Court on the grounds that they were “unconstitutional,” Oli has attempted to justify his actions in his manifesto.
Oli has also offered a number of recommendations for how to “purify the party.”
Although the UML is organising what it refers to as the statutory congress, political watchers claim that it will be devoid of political disputes, which are regarded to be the speciality of communist parties.
“However, the UML has absolutely failed in its attempt to defend its three-year tenure in office. According to political expert Dambar Khatiwada, the government has failed to develop a coherent narrative throughout its three years in office. “Oli has instead defended his judgments that are contrary to democratic principles like as democracy, constitutionalism, separation of powers, rule of law, and other democratic basics,” says the author.
According to Khatiwada, the UML’s democratic credentials may be called into question if it leans toward being a party directed by a single individual or individual group.
In contrast, he observed, “the UML looks to be hell-bent on constructing Oli’s storey, with no one present to question him.”
As far back as seven decades ago, when Nepal’s first communist party was created, the primary goal was to initiate a war against feudalism, autocracy, comprador capitalism, and imperialism. Although he died in 2004, Bhandari’s work on constructing an extension to Marxism-Leninism was still ongoing at the time. He presented an ideological line that he called People’s Multiparty Democracy in the early 1990s. The old revolutionary ideology was abandoned in favour of a democratic multiparty system, which was supported by the thinking. This phrase was first used in 1993.
Friday, the general secretary of the People’s Multiparty Democracy Party, Pokharel, declared that People’s Multiparty Democracy is “the most revolutionary thought” in the world at this moment and place.
He said, “The UML, which claims to believe in the parliamentary system and multiparty democracy, has completely rejected the notion of common leadership, and it has been a complete and complete failure.” As a result of its decision to go with a one-man leadership structure, the party will become more rigid, regressing to a more primitive level. Organizations and committees, as well as communal leadership, should be the order of the day in a communist party.”
A noteworthy comment was made on social media by Ghanashyam Bhusal, one of the dissident leaders who have initiated a campaign against Oli in the United Muslim League (UML), on Friday night.
In a tweet, Bhusal remarked, “Collective leadership and organisational system have been the lifeblood of the UML.” “If we are unable to save them, nothing will be able to save us.” No one will be able to defeat us if we can grasp this concept.”