Nepal Elections 2013

The Fall of Maoists

29 Nov, 2013    ·   4200

Sisir Devkota looks at why the party’s popularity has been undermined

Sisir Devkota
Sisir Devkota
Research Intern
The 2013 CA election in Nepal was a show of vibrant participation, inclusiveness and enthusiasm. Not only was there an increase in people’s representatives, there were also 68 more political parties running for the FPTP (first past the post) and 67 for PR (proportional representation), making the total number of parties contesting 122 this year. The results of around half of the total election constituencies in Nepal has been declared and the third position acquired by the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist’s (UCPN-M) has been a poor performance given their history and stature among the major political parties. The nature of the second round of Constituent Assembly election results in Nepal has once again provided the message of the Nepali population’s reluctance in giving a second chance to non-performers. Failure in the election is not the prime reason for the fall of Maoist party in Nepal. The decline of popularity of the once charismatic leader Prachanda and the party is because of their irrational public statements, miscalculation of people’s aspirations and most importantly, their lack of respect towards the verdict of the Nepali people.

The press conference organised by the UCPN-M right after the initial election results in Nepal showed their impatience, irrationality, and lack of leadership and representation of the Nepali people. The press conference was called to defy the election process and to demand the halt of the vote count. It was not that people in Nepal did not anticipate such a situation; however, reflecting on Prachanda’s commitment to respect the CA results a week before the elections in a television interview shows their unprofessionalism as a political party. The voter turnout was more than 70 per cent this time; the highest recorded percentage in Nepali history. UCPN-M has not only disrespected the Nepali verdict but has also displayed their impatience - the people will now seriously question their governance ability. The CA results will soon be forgotten but it is difficult to say if they will garner substantial public support in the future elections of Nepal.

UCPN-M has failed as a party not only because of their inability to secure minimal seats – a closer look at the margin of their defeat will reveal an embarrassing picture. The wins by other political parties have been comprehensive. That also means that UCPN-M performed poorly in many constituencies and was unable to give any serious competition to the opposition. Prachanda was comprehensively defeated by a comparatively less popular leader of the Nepali Congress, that too with huge number of votes. Dahal gathered 12,852 votes whereas Rajan KC who won in Kathmandu-10 constituency received 20,392 votes. This is one of the major defeats of the party as a whole. The Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-M), which had parted ways with the Unified Maoist Party, did not contest the elections. Prachanda, in his recent interviews, has made statements about how his party could now support the election defiance campaign of the Baidya-led 33 party alliance in Nepal. However, the will of the CPN-M to enter the CA process has recently been evident. In that case, UCPN-M will lose the only support of its ideologically near partner as well. This is how they are on the verge of a flop political future because of their own miscalculations.

Definace of the declaration of results by the UCPN-M has not been welcomed by any international observation groups. Had the ballot boxes been mishandled and stolen as per Maoist allegations, the international observers would have notified the public as well. The Carter Centre along with the European Union (EU) Election Observation Mission has urged UCPN to respect the verdict of the polls. Jimmy Carter, who led the Carter Centre’s observation campaign, even made a public statement on how the Maoist party, if unpleased with the election process, should go to court. Similarly, India, the US and China, all hailed the election as successful. China’s positive remark on the election is another setback for the Maoists. The reaction of the UCPN-M towards the election results also contradicts election ethics, especially when other political parties positively conceded their consecutive defeats in the CA. This has portrayed a negative image of the party in the eyes of the general public. After the failure of the first round of elections in Nepal, the Nepali people have realised the importance of the second CA polls, which will successfully fulfill the process of writing the new constitution. The culture of not being capable to swallow election defeat is not only a weakness but also a negative and undemocratic trait.

With the recent results, the decline of Maoist party in Nepal is certain, and it is due to their inability to respect the people’s verdict. Among the people who overthrew the monarchy to install republicanism, the political attitude of the UCPN-M is most self-destructive. It is high time for them to reassess their political action and strategies.