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Nepal’s communist parties unite ahead of Oli’s China visit; signals for India?

By Shubham

Nepal's ruling Left parties - Communist Party of Nepal (CPN)-(Unified Marxist-Leninist) and CPN-Maoist Centre - saw a former merger on Thursday, May 17, to form the Nepal Communist Party (NCP) to set up the country's largest Left force and it came eight months after they initially pledged for the unification.

Nepal’s communist parties unite; signals for India?

The announcement of the merging was made by Prime Minister KP Oli, also the leader of CPN-UML and former prime minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal alias Prachanda, who leads the CPN-Maoist Centre, at a press conference.

Prachanda said during his announcement that the unification of the two communist parties was like forming water by combing hydrogen and oxygen and they can't be separated once the water is formed.

He said the "great step" of unifying the two parties will work towards stability, development and prosperity, something PM Oli also echoed as the head of the government.

A nine-member central secretariat and a 45-member standing committee were also formed to guide the new party. Besides, a 441-member central committee was also put in place featuring 45 per cent members from the former CPN-Maoist centre, PTI reported.

The merger means the NCP now has 174 out of 275 seats in the Assembly which is more than adequate to grant the country a political stability.

Biggest political tamasha, says Nepali Times

However, though Leftist analysts were elated saying this makes the Nepal Communist Party one of the most powerful communist outfits in the world, not all are pleased. The Nepali Times in a report called the merger "the biggest political tamasha in seven decades of Nepal's communist movement".

The Opposition Nepali Congress, which did poorly in the 2017 elections, will be weakened further by the merger and it vented its frustration by saying the unification would drag Nepal into the realm of communist authoritarianism, the Nepali Times report added.

It said the intent for unification although was made last year before the elections, but issues like power-sharing and leadership created some obstacles on its way.

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Nepal recently and Oli became tied up with things, the talks for the merger got stuck and Prachanda started suspecting that PM Oli was not interested in the merger any more, the Nepali Times report added.

The Maoists even started wooing the Madhesis and stayed away from some of Modi's events, it added. But the deal's way was cleared after the two communist leaders met on Wednesday, May 16, which also marked the 25th death anniversary of popular CPN-UML leader Madan Bhandari, who lost his life in a suspicious car crash.

Internationally, too, this move of unification by Nepal's communists ahead of Oli's June visit to China is significant and will keep India guessing over various angles and aspects. PM Modi during his recent visit to Nepal made hard efforts to revive India's battered image among the Nepalis but has that really paid off? Time will tell.

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