Tuesday, April 23, 2024

The Makune Factor

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The November elections have not only produced a hung parliament situation, it has also brought country’s politics to a classic situation of intricate balance between a snake, a frog and a scorpion. A snake can easily devour a frog; a frog can devour a scorpion; and a scorpion can sting the snake to death. The situation is strangulatingly triangular – each creature is attracted by the prey at the front while at the same time distracted by the predictor lurking behind.

Depending on one’s attitude and liking, people are free to designate NC, UML and the Maoists as a snake, a frog or a scorpion. Differences in designation will not substantially affect the balancing act. NC is scared of UML while UML is scared of the Maoists and Maoists are scared of the NC. Nobody trusts each other. They all are prepared for a mutually assured backstabbing.

In the situation of a balancing act, media has named Madhav Kumar Nepal (dubbed as Makune in Nepali), the president of CPN (US), as possible candidate for the president. This has literally shook and shattered the political equation. The move is creating a similar effect like NC deciding to give confidence vote to Prachanda Government on 10 January. The move is reported to have been (cunningly) designed by no other than KP Sharma Oli, the president of CPN (UML) – the father or “baa” of Olitics-politics in Nepal. This could be his counter move to shatter NC’s dhoksa – typical Nepali word for fish trapping in a running water.

First, it news emerged after a four-hour long one-to-one meeting between Oli and Makune, reported to have been arranged somewhere in Maharajgunj. This has nothing to do with Nirmal Niwas but possibly at a private residence of one of the members of CPN(US). Makune did not directly endorse Oli’s proposal but agreed to his offering in “a roundabout fashion”, stressing more on party unification. However, in a meeting between Prachanda and Oli, Prachanda did confirm Oli proposing Makune as a possible candidate. This is to win the minds and hearts of the Maoists. The media reported Oli telling Prachanda, “If you think I am drawing the name of candidate from my pocket then let us have it from your pocket.”

Now, with the development of new political scenario, hectic intra-party and inter-party parlays are underway.  Meanwhile, Nepal is reported to have said for public consumption that he "is not power hungry but agrees to hold on to that position if there is all-party agreement on his nomination".

In another meeting with Ishwor Pokharel, Nepal has agreed to become the candidate if and only if CPN (UML) is ready to restore the party status of “CPN double” whose disbanding has, literally, brought current political mess in the country. In another statement, Makune is reported to have said that it is time for his party to have “power sharing” rather than “power following”.

By naming Makune, Oli is successful in spreading the winds of distrust within enemy camps. Now, the members of CPN (US) are demanding that all inter-party meetings should be accompanied by a colleague – as a way of assuring transparency.

As part of psychological warfare, the Maoists, CPN (US) and JSP belonging to Upendra Yadav have agreed to form an alliance to put pressure on NC and CPN (UML). Remember, today is Friday and most of the politically significant events in Nepal happen on Fridays.

The naming of Makune as a possible candidate has disrupted the classic balancing act between a snake, a frog and a scorpion in a number of ways. First, Nepal is very much a part of old five party alliance, therefore, it will be too difficult for the Maoists and NC to reject him outright. His naming has brought an eight Richter scale earthquake within NC. The party is so much assured of having president that only thing that remained to be settled is the name for the next president - Ram Chandra Paudel or Krishna Sitaula or even Deuba himself?

Having betrayed Makune on 25 December when Prachanda decided to join hands with Oli without even informing Makune, Prachanda cannot betray him again. After all, Makune has kept his unwavering loyalty in a fight with his arch enemy Oli. By naming Makune, Oli is successful in spreading the winds of distrust within enemy camps. Now, the members of CPN (US) are demanding that all inter-party meetings should be accompanied by a colleague – as a way of assuring transparency.

Nobody trusts who said what and when! There is little trust in secret meetings and parlays between top shots. If this is the situation with the leaders, imagine what could happen with the general public?

Makune himself is in a bind. It is rumored that with the revival of old five party alliance, he too is assured of prime ministerial position to hold elections. This no less mouth-watering for a party holding ten seats in the parliament.

Imagining the triangular equation that I mentioned at the start of this writing, the most important question that looms around is: Is Makune a disturbing fly in a balancing trio of NC, UML and the Maoists or a decisive force to reckon with? Thank God It's Friday.               

Published on 24 February 2023

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