| High Level
Dialogue on Intra-Party Conflict Management
Seminar organized by Centre for Legal
Consultancy and Research (CeLCaR)
18 December 2012
By Ritu Raj Subedi
The Rising Nepal
Intra-party conflict is a common phenomenon
in the Nepalese politics. In most occasions, it is personality
clash rather than serious ideological differences that cause the
split in the parties. It is not that ideological factor is not
there. What is truth is that personality clash is often veiled
with ideological struggle. The vested personal interest is garbed
with party principle. The absence of vibrant internal democracy
is another important factor behind the unhealthy intra-party dispute.
Undemocratic behavior and feudal mindset often create fissures
in the Nepalese political parties and hamper in their smooth functioning.
The struggle to grab post, power and resources among the leaders
triggers long-running quarrel. Nepotism and favoritism are other
two rampant elements spoiling unity and mutual collaboration among
the top brass. Therefore, promotion of internal democracy, democratic
culture, system of check and balance, fairness and periodic election
are necessary to keep party united and dynamic.
With the objective of diagnosing the causes
of intra-party conflict and finding their solution, the Centre
for Legal Consultancy and Research (CeLCaR) and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung
(FES) jointly held one-day seminar 'High Level Dialogue on Intra-party
Conflict Management for Conflict Resolution' in Kathmandu on
December 18. Youth leaders from the major parties participated
in the programme. They voiced for restoring basic values and
norms in the parties so that they will be able to amicably resolve
their intra-party crisis. Youth leaders from Nepali Congress,
CPN-UML and UCPN-Maoist presented their separate working papers.
The first session was chaired by NC leader
Chandra Bhandari. Another youth NC leader NP Saud presented
his working paper entitled 'Conflict Within the Parties and
Consolidation of Loktantra'. Political analyst Jhalak Subedi
and UML youth leader Yogesh Bhattarai commented Saud's paper.
C D Bhatta, programme officer at the FES, made his opening speech.
Value-based politics eroding: Bhatta
Addressing the first session, Bhatta said
that the Nepalese political parties were born in course of fighting
against autocratic regimes and served as the drivers of modernity.
However, following the popular movement of
1990, the political parties failed to deliver on their promises
and value-based politics continued to erode, causing intra-party
conflicts virtually in all parties.
"The rise in the social movements and
identity politics also created multiple crises and rendered
consensus building task difficult. There is shift from demo
to ethno. It is only through civic education that the crisis
triggered by identity politics could be solved," said Bhatta.
He further noted that when the parties become
weak, the dominant interest groups infiltrated into the parties
to hijack the people's agenda.
Further dwelling upon the state of the political
parties, he said that they lacked fatherly figure, who could
unite and command the party. Noting that the goal of all parties
was to create a welfare state, he said that there was significant
communication gap between the parties and the people.
Holding a critical tone towards intellectuals,
Bhatta said that instead of facilitating for broader consensus
and providing with insightful inputs to the parties, they only
vie for posts of benefits.
He expressed reservation to the growing negative
trend against the political parties and their leaders. "We
should recommend positive sides of the political parties."
"In order to strengthen democracy and
resolve conflict, there is the need of inter and intra-party
dialogue," he said.
Saud stresses institutional development
In his working paper, NC leader Saud said
that the Nepalese parties were established largely as a result
of national and international political developments, not based
on domestic socio-economic necessities.
"Instead of institutional development
of lower committees, the parties have extended its structure
from top to bottom by creating various mythical personalities.
As a result, they are revolving around leaders' personality
rather than ideology," he said.
In the personality dominated parties, the
top leaders negate alternative arrangement for leadership transfer
and the management of the organization. "This has been
possible owing to the joint support of traditional and opportunistic
forces. It leads to the intra-party struggle as the alternative
leadership claims their stake."
Saud noted that most of the parties reflected
personality clash among their leaders and they suffered from
repeated divisions in the absence of process and mechanism for
the alternative leadership transfer.
Saud mentions following reasons behind the intra-party conflict
in the Nepalese political parties:
1. Fight for leadership and personality clash.
2. Struggle for opportunity and control over resources.
3. Conflict for ethnic and regional identity.
4. Existence of diverse and distinct identities of different
parties following their unification.
5. Ideological division and deviation.
6. Influences of national and international power centres.
Saud emphasized that the parties could not build their institutional
character, develop capacity for the implementation of its principle
and ability for the intra-party conflict management, and expand
the public base until they develop democratic system within
themselves. He offers following suggestions for the party improvement:
- Adoption of independent and transparent
- The operation of the parties based on committee
- Fixing the time limit for the continuity
of the leadership,
- Effective role of thought groups in the
- The selection of leadership on the basis
of programme, policy and credible conduct,
- Special programme for the access to the
target voters' group.
Saud admitted that there was challenge for
the institutional development of the parties if one glanced
into their history of birth, division, disintegration. "Nepal's
democracy is standing at the precarious mode. If we fail to
develop proper system for the resolution of intra and inter-party
conflict, the ongoing fluidity puts democracy at risk."
He called for developing the self-dependent
of the parties in order to get rid them of powerful persons,
groups and power centres. "First, we must shun feudal mindset
and promote democratic conduct for the institutional development
of the parties."
In order to end inter and intra-part conflict
and existing political impasse, he suggested for writing constitution
by holding the new CA election at the earliest.
Commenting Saud's paper, Subedi appreciated
it as well prepared document, elucidating the causes of intra-party
conflict in the Nepalese political parties. He said that the
mainstream parties, namely NC and UML, needed to reaffirm their
ideology in the changed context. "BP Koirala formulated
his principle of democratic socialism in the colonial context
and it is difficult to be applicable in the country, which was
not colonized by foreign powers. Likewise, Mao's 'New Democracy'
could not be implemented here for the similar reason."
Subedi was of the view that the country should
have such a political system which all parties could own up
and would be a win-win for all.
Dwelling on the current impasse, he argued
that the NC and UML could not accept the new ideology that came
in the Nepalese politics with the rise of the Maoist insurgency.
"In the world, the opposition groups
do not stake their claim to the government before the election
but this happened here. This is owing to the lack of self-confidence
in them," he added.
He noted that the Nepalese had sought a middle
class democracy and there is the need of its management.
He dubbed the national economy as the reflection
of 'absurd capitalism'.
"The second generation leaders of major
parties should not move ahead unless they redefine ideology
their parties have been carrying," he said.
Another commentator Yogesh Bhattarai said
that the main parties have suffered from similar problems when
it comes to the handling of their organizations. He criticized
the authoritarian nature of the leadership that follows Leninist
'democracy centralism' to run the organization.
"Leninist theory was formulated during
war time and it could not be applied in the time of peace,"
Stating that the Nepalese parties came into
existence with the evolution of capitalism, he said that they
engineered revolution but in other places the parties came into
existence following revolution.
He called on the leaders to keep abreast of
development happening in the social media like Facebook. "There
is wide gap in the perception between the leaders and the Facebook
Stressing that the party members should be
engaged in production, labour and legal activities, he demanded
that the parties carry out debate in a transparent manner. "It
should not be like an underground organization run by a don."
He admitted that new generation had little
attraction towards the political parties. "It is only transparent
behaviour of the parties that the young people could switch
He warned that if the factionalisms were created
on the basis of monetary deals, no one could prevent such parties
Bhattarai said that there was not sufficient
debate on building the socialist party. "I think all have
equal role in the construction of socialist party that also
brings an end to all kinds of discriminations."
From the Floor
Shyam Bansent said that there had been too
much politics. It was high time the politics should be linked
Nirmal Bishowkarma noted that the Nepalese
parties failed to address the social diversities and problems.
Their agenda keep mum on the social discriminations that are
rampant in the Nepali society. Keshav Pandey said that all parties
had whole timers. He said that youth leaders, who were elected
to the party posts with the promise of promoting young leadership,
had failed to seek their role in the party and are only supporting
the 'older' leaders. The parties lack internal democracy and
suffer from factionalism, he said. Sarita Prasai said that the
youth leaders should bring change in the parties and offer vision
to the party leadership but they are not playing their role
in the parties. Nothing can be achieved by passing buck to each
other. It is easy to be minister or prime minister but it is
difficult to be a real leader. Ajay Das said that the youth
leaders should not only point out problem, they should be able
to provide solution also. Another participant said that the
parties could not focus on the economic agenda. The cadres are
helping to form many factions in the parties "Factionalism
and pessimism have grown as the leaders fail to evaluate the
From the chair, Chandra Bhandari shared his
experiences he gathered when he visited different parts of the
country. He said that the parties became unable to teach Nepali
history and identity to the Nepalese. "In course of political
orientation programme, I had gone to a Muslim settlement in
Birgunj and I asked the locals to name their leader. I was stunned
hearing their answer. They said their leader is Rahul Gandhi."
Bhandari made following points:
- We could not address the people's needs.
- Many student leaders are involved in shutting
down the colleges and universities after receiving commission
- Many leaders lost their prestige while
vying for post, power and sex.
- The value based politics declined.
- I have been projected as anti-Indian leader
and my statement made in the party CC meeting is reported
to the Indian embassy.
- Political parties look like clubs.
- The country plunges into crisis due to
the lack of good leaders.
Former student leader and Nepalese ambassador
to China Tanka Karki chaired the second session. UCPN-Maoist
politburo member Giriraj Mani Pokharel presented his working
paper 'The effects of inter and intra-party conflict on Loktantra'
and political analyst Mumaram Khanal commented his paper.
Put emphasize on proletariat democracy:
In his working paper, Pokharel said that the
term 'democracy' had been wrongly understood in Nepal. It is
merely taken as Westminster style democracy. "It is wrong.
There are other models of democracy. Much debate has been needed
to brainstorm 'proletariat democracy'."
He noted that the political parties were born
out of the social and historical necessities, and they represented
class interests and served as a means for knowledge processing.
Stating that intra-party conflict is both
friendly and hostile, and the hostile conflict led to party
division, he said that the division in the big parties negatively
affected the political system and the future of country and
the people. "The parties split as they fail to manage conflict
Offering insight on the split in the UCPN-Maoist
party, he said that there lay difference in tactical line after
the Chunwang meeting adopted loktantrik republic.
It is wrong to label any type of intra-party
conflict as the two-line conflict, he said, adding that the
two-line conflict emerged when there were basic differences
in ideology, culture and working style.
"UCPN-Maoist split as it could not rightly
implement democratic centralism. Its failure to develop system
in the party, its over centralized leadership, the play and
interference of foreign power centres also contributed the party's
division,' he said.
On the inter-party conflict, Pokharel remarked
that the UCPN-M did not only dissolve its parallel government,
it also handed over its army and arms to the government for
peace and constitution but the NC and UML were not ready to
write the constitution aimed at ending of all type of discriminations
relating to class, caste, region and gender. "The NC and
UML did not wholeheartedly accept the 12-point agreement. They
supported it out compulsion and reactive politics."
"Now the parties that signed the 12-point
understanding should come together; forge collaboration; commit
to the agreements made in the last four years and agree to seek
opinion from the people on the contentious matters," he
Commenting his paper, political analyst Mumaram
Khanal made following remarks:
- The parties lack institutional life,
- Juniors are promoted to the upper rung
of the party leadership from back door
- For the consolidation of loktantra, the
parties should be democratized,
- For NC, loktantra is merely to participate
in the election,
- The communist leaders are only talking
about proletariat but are not working sincerely to the welfare
of the downtrodden people,
- The ongoing transition seems to be never
ending because the parties are preoccupied with power-centric
- The conflict between Prachanda and Dr Babu
Ram Bhattarai is like a quarrel between late PB Koirala and
- The intra-party conflict arises due to
the organizational and ideological ambiguities, and it turns
intense when the party is converted into a bureaucratic entity,
- The problem also surfaced when the cadres
are not mobilized for productive works.
Comment from the floor
Narendra Khadka said that intra-party conflict
was indispensable and it needed to be managed constructively.
He argued that one-party two-system could keep the party united.
Stating that the feudal mindset is still active in the parties,
he said the intra-party conflict could not be resolved by merely
holding periodic election. He noted that the intra-party conflict
should be based on agenda, not around its personalities. Shiva
Ram Yadav said that UCPN-M put emphasis on centralism during
the conflict but party chairman is advocating it even after
coming to the peace process. Tekraj Poudel said that the public
was disenchanted with the politics as there was vast difference
between the words and actions of the leaders. Could we lessen
people's hatred towards the politicians? Is the current loktantrik
republic the final political system for the UCPN-M? Kripasur
Sherpa said that the parties were the means, not the end. Some
ethnic leaders are clamouring for single ethnic identity with
the intention of grabbing power.
Pokharel's response: Our final goal is socialism.
We should move ahead by institutionalizing the current political
system. Federalism will unify the country. There should be a
healthy debate on federalism. It is not only about ethnicity.
It should be linked with ethnicity, class, regionalism and nationality.
The thought group in the party needs to be regulated and it
mustn't be allowed to act freely.
Chair's remarks: From the chair, Tanka Karki
said that the Nepalese political parties were formed based on
feudal/social grounds and now the feudal base has crumbled down.
They should mould themselves in the changed context. The parties
are themselves dynamic system and require check and balance.
The basis of almost all parties is middle class. The elites
have access to the social structure, therefore they are affecting
the state mechanisms. There has been big gap between the commitment
and its translation into action. All parties' leaders are imitating
the bourgeois and royal life style.
UML secretary Shankar Pokharel presented his
working paper 'Democratization of the party for conflict management'
in the third session of the seminar chaired by CPN-M leader
Suresh Ale Magar. Rajan Bhattarai commented Pokharel's paper.
'Strengthen ideological foundation'
Pokharel said that the Nepalese exhibited
strange psychological behaviour. "They often react in extreme,
which poses problem to democracy."
He noted that the parties could not instill
idealistic feeling in the cadres. As a result, ideology became
weak, and opportunism dominant," he said.
He said that the parties and their leaderships,
who had gathered special experiences about political movements,
had been unable to institutionalize the achievements. This has
caused massive frustration in the public following the April
movement. The UML leaders also blamed the ruling UCPN-M's totalitarian
attitude for the deepening deadlock in the country.
Pokharel noted that the mainstream parties
had problem to define new changes. "They could not move
on the basis of their old principles on the very plank they
were born. Neither could they redefine the path they are walking
down at the moment."
About his own party, Pokharel said, "The
UML is bearing correct ideology but it has become weak and the
leadership is unable to explain this situation."
The UCPN-M adopted collective leadership and
forsook the general secretary system but its leadership became
more authoritarian. There has been tendency to hobnob with the
external elements to become strong within the party. Pokharel
claimed that the CA was dissolved owing to the dispute between
the UCPN-M chairman Prachanda and its then vice-chairman Mohan
The parties become strong when its ideological
foundation is strengthened, organizational structure is democratized,
feudal mindset eschewed and democratic culture is promoted.
In order to ensure greater democracy in the party, the party
must practice direct loktantra, which in turn ensures the access
of the youth to the rung of the leadership. Giving an example
of China where the politicians do not remain in the leadership
after 65 years old, he said, "We should also develop similar
system that bars the leaders to be in executive post after certain
age. The leaders become autocratic when the provisions of check
and balance are heaped on them." The parties should form
independent and powerful commissions such as of disciplinary,
accounting and election to balance the leadership.
According to him, the old organizational system
stopped to work and the new system was not in place. This has
created anarchy in the party. In order to manage their internal
life, the parties need to change its structure accordingly.
He put forth following suggestions for the democratization of
1. Focus on the party ideology,
2. Develop the democratic organizational structure,
3. Promote democratic culture,
4. Hold the periodic convention,
5. Follow collective leadership system,
6. Ensure effective provisions of check and balance,
7. Restore of cadres' sovereignty in the party,
8. Ensure the economic transparency.
UML youth leader Rajan Bhattarai made following
comments on the paper:
- The Nepalese leaders showed mettle to spearhead
successful political movements but failed to manage transition
and conclude it successfully,
- We have not yet able to embrace changes
occurring in science and technology that are useful for the
operation of the parties,
- Is Leninist system for the party organization
still relevant now?
- There is problem to manage the ambition
of the leaders as they move to the upper rung of the leadership.
- How to manage ex-figures (ex-PMs, ministers,
politburo members and central committee members) is another
challenge. In order to maintain their social status, they
do not hesitate to earn money illegally,
- The problems of the party workers and
whole timers could not be solved until they are linked to
production and labour,
- The income source of the parties must
be transparent and donation should be legalized,
- Like in advanced nation, the government
should provide financial support to the parties on the basis
of votes they garner in the election.
From the floor
Prajwol Chapagai said that the winners in
the party often ignore the losers and vise-versa. It is indeed
a challenge to manage party on the basis of social, economic,
cultural and psychological point of views, he said, adding that
the parties should be managed in democratic manner and they
must maintain economic transparency. Indra Adhikari said that
the Nepalese parties lack democratic culture. The paper presenters
should suggest ideas for the solution of the problem rather
amplifying problems. Monarchy has gone but feudal mindset still
persists, she noted. Keshav Pandey said that there is tendency
among the cadres to climb the power ladder by playing sycophancy
instead of using meritocracy. Political instability has also
contributed for the growth of intra-party conflict. Shyam Basnet
noted that there is enough of politics. Time has come to focus
on development issues.
From the chair, Suresh Ale Magar said that
loktantra bears class interest and value: For whom it is. We
are talking about relative democracy. Intra-party disputes occur
due to the ideological reasons. The people's multiparty democracy
is not new idea. Neither is it Marxist ideology. It has abandoned
basic tenets of Marxism. The UCPN-Maoist split owing to ideological
differences, not for post and power.