Kathmandu: Three major political parties of Nepal–Nepali Congress, CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Center)–concluded their general conventions recently. Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP), a pro-monarchy political force, elected a new face in the top leadership position–Rajendra Lingden.
With this, all eyes are on the upcoming general elections, to be held in 2022.
Speculations, calculations, and analyses about the elections have begun to be made. Deliberations on forming alliances are ongoing within various political parties. Meanwhile, the question of continuity of the current ruling coalition of Nepali Congress, CPN (Unified Socialist), Maoist Center and JSPN remains a suspect.
Will the coalition last until the next election?
Maoist Center and CPN (Unified Socialist) are advocating for the continuity of the coalition in such a way as if their existence would be endangered if they compete in the election on their own. The major reason behind their desperateness for the continuity of the coalition until the election is obvious: Maoist Center has weakened to its core and CPN (Unified Socialist) is yet to reach out to and strengthen its influence at the grassroots level.
Compared to two other parties in the coalition, Nepali Congress is in a more comfortable position. However, it is a divided house on whether the party should take the coalition until the next election or not. Some party leaders say the continuity of the coalition will weaken the agenda of the party, make the party lose its traditional stronghold if it becomes devoid of an independent agenda. Notwithstanding, many Congress leaders still support the coalition plan because they think that continuing with the coalition until the election will help the party to win the majority seats in the election. No wonder, party president Sher Bahadur Deuba has been delivering speeches tacitly supporting the idea of continuing with the coalition.
Nepali Congress seems to be in a more comfortable position but it is divided over whether the party should take the coalition until the next election.
On the other hand, the alliance of smaller parties with the main opposition CPN-UML cannot be ruled out. Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP), Bibeksheel Sajha and Loktantik Samjbadi Party (LSP) may join hands with UML. After the Nepal Communist Party (NCP) was invalidated by the Supreme Court, followed by a split in UML, UML lost a number of its prospective voters. What move the UML might make will largely depend on whether the current coalition among Nepali Congress and other parties will remain intact.
Janata Samajbadi Party (JSP) and Loktantrik Samajbadi Party (LSP) have not come up with any visible plans and agendas yet, though JSP looks keen to contest the coming elections through the ruling coalition.
Here are some likely scenarios
1. Continuity of the alliance
The alliance may continue until the next election, but the chances are low. It depends on the decision of the Nepali Congress, which is itself a divided house.
2. Continuity of the alliance only for the top guns
The safer option for the ruling Nepali Congress will be to continue with the alliance in a few constituencies for the prominent leaders of JSP, CPN (Maoist Center), and CPN (Unified Socialist). To ensure that top leaders of these parties do not lose, Congress might continue with the coalition.
3. Competing in the election separately
If the ruling coalition fails to forge a consensus, the parties will compete in the election separately. That will much likely further weaken the position of the parties such as JSP, CPN (Maoist Center), and CPN (Unified Socialist) as they will secure only a few seats.
4. Alliance of the CPN-UML
CPN-UML seems to be confident at present. But the reality is that the number of votes has shrunk. RPP has created a new political wave for the Hindu nation after its General Convention and Bibeksheel is also considering forging a partnership with RPP. In this context, UML may take these parties with it to compete in the upcoming election. Moreover, it may form an alliance with LSP which had supported the party in its weals and woes.
5. Alliance of the smaller parties
If the current alliance of the ruling parties can’t continue, there are possibilities that the smaller parties such as Maoist Center and Unified Socialist will form an electoral alliance. But that may not make a big difference to big parties like Congress and UML as they still have the largest number of voters with them.