-- New party named Communist Party of Nepal
-- Oli, Dahal to lead new party by turns until general convention
-- New general convention to formulate the new party's political line
KATHMANDU, Feb 20: The CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Center), two leftist parties in charge of the federal government and six of the seven provinces, have struck a historic merger deal.
A meeting of top leaders of the two parties at late night Monday officially approved the "left unity" deal agreeing, in principle, on party leadership, organization and ideology.
The deal, which was brokered through a series of meetings held at various levels since the two sides reached an understanding on merger in October, has confirmed biggest political union in Nepal's history, which would convert the first and the third largest parties into a single political entity. The two parties, following the understanding, had forged an electoral alliance that helped them win majority seats in the central parliament and in six of the seven provinces.
In a seven-point pact signed by eight leaders including UML Chairman KP Oli and CPN (Maoist Center) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal on Monday, the two sides have agreed to form Communist Party of Nepal, a leftist party with Marxist-Leninist ideology as its guiding principle.
Leaders said the agreement was signed after interlocutors from the two sides hammered out a sketch deal on leadership, organization and ideology which would be given actual shape through a joint general convention in around a year and a half. However, the agreement on leadership and organization has not been disclosed in the written agreement.
According to leaders, UML and Maoist Center will have 60 percent and 40 percent stakes respectively in the steering committee, the central committee and other lower bodies of the new party. The central committee would not exceed three-digit figures, while there would be less than two dozen leaders in the standing committee.
According to leaders present during the signing of the deal, Oli and Dahal will jointly run the party, besides rotating the premiership.
"Both of us will remain party chiefs and internal meetings will be chaired by turns. Other issues (pertaining to unity) will be resolved through the general convention which will be held soon," Dahal told reporters after signing the agreement at the prime minister's official residence at Baluwatar.
As per a gentlemen's understanding reached between the two chairmen, Oli would head the government for the first three years, while Dahal would lead the government for the remaining two years.
The agreement on parallel leadership will remain until the first general convention, while collective leadership model would be followed for other portfolios.
With regard to ideology, the new party would adhere to Marxist and Leninist principles. The fate of "the people's multiparty democracy", which is the UML's political line, and Maoist Center's political line of Maoism will be decided by the first joint general convention.
In power-sharing on governance, UML and Maoist Center will retain President and Speaker of the Federal Parliament. Similarly, Maoist Center has retained the post of vice president, while deputy speaker will be from the UML.
Monday's merger deal, given the size of the two parties, is the biggest political experiment of its kind in Nepal's history which will have long-run impact on Nepal's political, economic and social spheres.
On political front, it has warranted a left government at the center and in six provinces for a full five-year term. A five-year government is expected to bring much-needed stability in Nepal's political sphere and usher the country into the era of peace and economic growth.
Granted that the two parties navigate odds of the merger process and remain intact, the left is certain to remain dominant player in Nepali politics for a long time to come.
In the Monday's seven-point pact, the two sides have vowed to "lay the ground for socialism through economic and social transformation and strengthening national interests, democracy and social justice while safeguarding the achievements made so far."
The agreement has also paved way for giving full shape to the three-member cabinet formed last week.
"We will now join the government without any further delay," said Dahal.