Making and breaking political parties at will

Manoj Karki, KATHMANDU: Bijaya Kumar Gachchadar is a very well-known figure in the field of Nepali politics. Not that he is very popular but still omnipresent especially in any government that is formed in the country. And Gachchadar has made it to the cabinet probably the most number of times and to grab significant portfolios thanks largely to his ability to change parties at will. 

Leader Gachchadar now the deputy Prime Minister in the present government leads the Nepal Democratic Forum. He began his politics with the Nepali Congress party, took sides with the breakaway faction Nepali Congress-Democratic led by current Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba in 2002. He then joined the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum and then abandoned it to form a new breakaway party named Madhesi Janadhikar Forum-Democratic. He is now leading the Nepal Democratic Forum and there are news reports that say that Gachchadar would eventually return to his mother party, the Nepali Congress.
And to give credit to the political credentials of Gachchadar, he has been able to get himself elected in every election that he has competed in the country so far. However, what has made it easy for him to form new political party time and again is the legislation related to political parties in Nepal, which provides ground for easy break-up and division of existing political parties.
The Rastriya Prajatantra Party leaders too have benefitted from the weak legislation as far as forming a breakaway party is concerned in the country. It is almost a puzzle now for anyone to tell how many times the RPP broke up and united. The latest one being a division to break up into three parties—the RPP, the RPP-Democratic and the RPP-Nationalist. Factional leaders get together the required 40 per cent and immediately register a new political party. And then get back again to re-unite in no time. Responding to new developments, there are reports that some leaders are already making efforts to bring all the RPPs together again.
Election and formation of governments are found to be the leading reasons to have trigged breaking up of many parties in Nepal, including the mainstream Nepali Congress, the CPN-UML and also the CPN-Maoist Centre.
Surprisingly though, things are now different in the country. All of a sudden parties have started coming together. It all began with a Dashain surprise from the main opposition CPN-UML and ruling coalition partner CPN-MC. They announced an election alliance for the near-coming elections and also a desire to finally merge into a single party in the long-run. Also together is the Dr Baburam Bhattarai-led Naya Shakti Party. It may be noted that Dr Bhattarai, who was with the CPN-MC for long, had decided to form an alternative political force, terming the mainstream parties as redundant in the new socio-economic situation of the country.
Taken aback by the sudden announcement by its coalition partner to join forces with the main opposition, the Nepali Congress too has initiated what it terms a ‘democratic alliance’ of pro-democratic and nationalist forces in the country. The deliberations so far has been limited to forging an alliance for the upcoming elections. But Gachchadar-led Nepal Democratic Forum may start the process of parties joining the mainstream Nepali Congress party.
The reason however it seems to be the same as to why the political parties who earlier broke up are now coming together. The result of the recent local elections and imposition of a threshold for the coming elections seems to have also encouraged parties to join hands to garner more seats in the legislature at all levels. Moreover, attaining power is the key, as no political party it seems will get a majority to lead the government on its own in coming elections.
With two major parties coming together, it will henceforth become difficult for fringe parties to enjoy the fruits of coalition governments as in the past. And the effect is already being seen with some dozen fringe parties deciding to merge.

Around a dozen political parties and associations announced unification with the Nepal Socialist Party led by Mohammad Rizwan Ansari. Ansari had formed the party after defecting from the CPN-UML. Nepal Sanghiya Samabadi Party, Samyukta Jatiya Mukti Morcha, Mulbasi Mukti Party, Rastriya Sammukti Party, Kirant Janabadi Workers Party, Nepal Sramik Party, Samajik Loktantrik Party, some members of Bahujan Shakti Party, Rastriya Janabikas Party, Dalit Mukti Party and Dalit Rights Campaign have joined hands to become a single party.

Nevertheless, the less the number of political parties the better for the country. However, this will be possible only if is guided by a legislation and not by immediate interest and ego of political leaders. Reports say that the CPN-UML and CPN-MC are already finding it difficult to agree on the share of 60-40 per cent in division of constituencies and the issue is likely to complicate further when it comes to formation of the government, if the coalition comes up with a majority or more.

As a result, the recent past trends of breaking political parties at will and for petty interests should be discouraged or at least strictly regulated through legislation. Only a strict provision relating to the formation of a breakaway party can deter repeated and regular division in political parties.

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