After Nepal, Who will head CPN-UML?

The resignation of Madhav Kumar Nepal, who led the party for the past 15 years, has triggered a big question — who will take over the reins of CPN-UML?

By Ghanashyam Ojha

MK Nepal resigned on moral grounds after UML, the second largest political party before the April 10 election, came a poor third in the constituent assembly polls under his leadership. The party Standing Committee appointed Amrit Kumar Bohara as acting general secretary. In the meantime, the hunt for next leader has intensified.

Majority party leaders are not convinced by Bohara’s ‘suave’ personality. “He is too gentle and lacks the broad knowledge needed to understand the geometry of current politics,” says a senior party leader, preferring to remain unnamed.

With the party literally facing the problem of existence after Maoists seized the UML’s traditional vote banks in the election, the urgency to decide on a leader and move forward has suddenly become an all-important exercise.

“I think the discussion inside the party is moving around two leaders — Jhalanath Khanal and KP Sharma Oli,” said the senior leader.

UML needs a maverick leadership to compete with Prachanda, a charismatic figure of the Maoist since both the parties largely share similar ideological and philosophical ground.

CPN-UML Central Committee meeting yesterday accepted the resignation of Madhav Kumar Nepal from the post of general secretary. During the meeting, Nepal proposed that the meeting accept his resignation to set a precedent of moral value. “As Madhav Kumar Nepal proposed, the meeting accepted his resignation,” said UML central leader Shankar Pokharel. The party also endorsed the Standing Committee’s selection of Amrit Kumar Bohara as acting general secretary until another decision.

“We need a strong man — both academically and physically,” says UML standing committee member Ishwar Pokharel.

He says the next leader must have the competence to regain our past image, “which is a big challenge”.

He, however declined to say who — between Khanal and Oli — weighs heavier in the party.

“I think both are heavy,” he quipped. Pokharel said he was not in the race for general secretary.

Khanal has an edge over Oli in that while the former won the election from Ilam constituency-1 the latter lost in Jhapa-7, that too to a little-known Maoist candidate. Besides this, most leaders say ‘Comrade JN’ — as Khanal is addressed by his partymen — who has already worked as party general secretary, is soft-spoken and maintains a mild personality.

Oli is acerbic and outspoken. They say Khanal’s personality can challenge Prachanda’s.

Khanal’s competence was recognized after he submitted a comprehensive report to the party on federalism. Party leaders also admire him for his role in drafting the party manifesto for the CA poll.

Both leaders have their own Achilles’ heel that could undo their prospects for the top post in the party.

Khanal’s outright criticism of late Madan Bhandari’s vision — Multi-party People’s Democracy — may prove costly. He had criticized late Bhandari’s vision which became the party’s ideological stance since the party’s fifth general convention in 1991. Bhandari was hugely popular during his days and is still highly revered among UML cadres.

“It is a snag for comrade JN because he had criticized the party’s fundamental doctrine,” says a UML’s Central Committee (CC) member.

On the other hand, Oli has has been religiously following late Bhandari’s vision. UML insiders, however, say his role (rather lack of it) during Janaandolan-2 in April 2006 has tarnished his image. Oli rarely participated in the popular movement against King Gyanendra’s autocracy.

Oli also has another disadvantage: his poor health. He has had serious kidney ailment and has undergone transplant in New Delhi. “Oli’s health won’t support him to lead the party in the face of huge challenges,” claimed the CC member.

Party leaders are also waiting to see who ex-general secretary Nepal endorses, if at all. “A majority of party members have high respect for Nepal and they may support the candidate who gets Nepal’s nod,” says the Standing Committee member.

Although Nepal hasn’t yet made his choice public, another CC member points out that Nepal may not forget — and forgive — Khanal’s suggestion regarding the appointment of a new party chief when the former was under prolonged house arrest soon after Feb 1 (2005) royal palace coup. It was Oli who opposed that move, throwing his weight behind Nepal. “This could weigh in Nepal’s mind,” the CC member said.

The choice of the party will be known after the party’s General Convention, which is supposed to be held soon after the election.

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24 thoughts on “After Nepal, Who will head CPN-UML?”

  1. Certainly, someone not like Sushil and GPK will head the CPN-UML party. This party looks much more democratic compared to NC party. I am pretty optimistic that this party will rebound in the next parliamentary election.

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  2. Mr. MK Nepal,

    I think you did the right thing by resigning from the post of general secretary. There is no doubt that you will kick out Jhakku in the next parliamentary election by garnering Bhakku votes. GOOD JOB!!

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  3. MK,
    Thanks. You did great job and purgated yourself from the misdeeds of past. Even, you forgot to do the ritual of your mother to make daurasuruwal. This is poetic justice. Anyway, you proved that you r not greedy for chair LIKE NC leader.
    I think JN can lead the party ahead. because he is not like khadke, pradeepe and keshebe.

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  4. I salute u for ur honesty Comrade. Nepali Politics will regret that it lost a capable leader like u amidst the whim.

    The qualities that a new party head requires are that:
    1. Ability to stand out UML as a party to believe in.
    2. He/She should be harsh speaker as well as mild as per the situation demands.
    3. Should be able to differentiate how UML is different from CPNM, now that CPNM is following the UML’s trend.
    4. Basically have clear vision regarding how to strengthen it’s base.

    All the best

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  5. Jhalanath khanal may be, Subash Nemwang or Bohara— I do not see others as a better candidate

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  6. MK Nepal should be given reponsibility to form a YCL type of gang to defend public from maoist or YCL.

    ——————if he succeed he will get chance to lead UML and ultimately nepal.

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  7. Independent_observer,

    I fully agree with you,and I also think that CPN-UML party will rebound whereas the parties like maoist and NC with dictatorial philosophy will definitely GO DOWN in the next parliamentary election

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  8. MK has definitely taken a quite a hard decision. Other people also try to learn from this. Nepalese has decided that he leave from his political days. So, should other people too.

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  9. How many have heard the name of Deepak Karki? Hikmat Karki? Gokarna Bista? Yogesh Bhattrai? Rup Narayan Shrestha (is he still with UML, I am not sure)?

    I say handover the party to the Younger generation. Only they can bring back UML in mainstream politics as a bigger party. Otherwise, it’s better to merge it with Maoists.

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  10. I think Amrit Kumar Bohora is the obvious choice for the next leader of CPN-UML but whoever be the leader UML is going to perish unless it changes itself according to the need of time…

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  11. between Jn and Oli, oli is better.Jn lacks aggressiveness though he is a respected figure beyond party circle.Oli is a witty speaker and is agressive enough to lead a communist party.
    in politburo no other can make good general secretary.in central commitee there is Sankar pokhrel who has that capability though he is still in central commitee.

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  12. Nirakar made a good point! UML should concentrate on building the country first showing how to to do so, instead of focusing on building the party. UML’s defeat is the lack of policy clearity regarding CA, monarchy and building new Nepal. All encompassing communist aggression is already with Maoists, so UML as a party cannot show as much aggression as Maoists. It is better for UML to merge with Maoists or change their name and establish a party in more democratic and liberal ideology, that will substitute Nepali Congress. Both Nepali Congress and UML are at the verge of extinction. They should change their strategy, ideology (actually they don’t seem any clear ideiology) and rebuilding organization reaching the grassroot level. Who will and should lead UML? I think Jhalanath Khanal has the composure, charisma, personality, and international linkages to succeed as UML General Secretary. He also has the clean image. ‘Bahudaliya Janawad’ is only equal to ‘Rastriya Melmilap’ of Congress, which is outdated ideology now. Nepal as a country needs radical change. UML should compete (if they want) by becoming more radical change bringer (democratically) and being watchdog of Maoists actions. OR they should be more aggressive radical communist (which I doubt, knowing their somewhat feudal background). UML’s competition is first with Nepali Congress.

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  13. MK Nepal did good by resigning from GS and proposing and appointing Jhalanath Khanal from simple acceptance of CC for same post. Hope he’ll regain popularity of UML again letting down the maoist in 4th not even 3th position in next election

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  14. salute to com. nepal and hand over the party to younger generation may be mr pradeep mr shankhar not to those belonging to male in 2056 along with bamdev

    Like

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