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Awesome party

When the CPN (UML) unified with the CPN (Maoist) two years ago, most hoped that it would lead to the UML-isation of the Maoists, steering them towards democratic norms and values. Instead, we seem to be witnessing the Mao-fication of the Nepal Communist Party. Evident proof of this was the first Central Committee meeting of the unified party last week — nearly two years after it was formed. The meeting of the 445-member jumbo Committee at the City Hall happened even as divisions sharpened between the party’s two top leaders: Prime Minister K P Oli and his co-chair, former Maoist leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal. Read also: Own goal, Kunda Dixit Which way Nepali politics in 2020?, Saindra Rai Dahal and Oli have tried to hide their power struggle, but their one-upmanship is on full public display in just about every noteworthy issue these days, from the selection of Parliament Speaker to the controversy over the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC).  The Central Committee gathering itself was structured like an NGO annual general meeting, complete with a review paper and 15 thematic breakout sessions from which hand-picked spokespersons reported on conclusions to the plenary. This allowed the leaders to keep a tight lid on dissent. The merits of issues and problems of internal party decision-making were therefore sidestepped, and the discussion reflected the party’s deep polarisation. The other tactic that Oli and Dahal effectively employed was of scathing self-criticism on issues on which they expected to be censured by members. Oli’s more than two-hour-long review was a mea culpa, admitting to delays in reorganising the unified party, failure in delivery of services by the government, and unconstitutional behaviour by the same.  This is a trick often employed by communist parties elsewhere when faced with severe criticism for failures. And it worked. There was no real debate on issues, and Oli managed to deflate and defuse most of the criticism of his leadership. However, the prime minister is getting physically weaker and politically more isolated. At a three-hour tête-à-tête with editors at his residence on Tuesday, Oli said he was going to get ano

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