The communist circles in Nepal are in an uproar vis-à-vis the proposed $500 million Millennium Challenge Corporation-Nepal Compact (MCC-NC). The Standing Committee members of the Nepal Communist Party (NCP) appear divided, for and against it. Though not surprising, the NCP folks’ targeting the compact, for their own hidden agenda, is unfortunate.
First, the intra-party feud in the NCP hints of a wish to consolidate power. The brand identity of this ‘ruling class’ resembles a half-baked potato. The outer layer is a mixture of the jargons of Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, and janabaad. The inner core comprises a coterie of crony capitalists. Their intraparty duality and tussles have, in fact, weakened Nepal’s prosperity and credibility. For example, prosperity is limited to the ruling class and the coterie, and the power brokers in the NCP. Now, those comrades who are not in the ruling armchairs want to reveal their ultra-nationalist credentials at the country’s cost.
Over the past few weeks, Nepal has witnessed an eruption of opinions about the MCC-NC across different media outlets. It seems those folks have been trying to find the right answer by asking the wrong questions. In general, opinion-makers and journalists have shown their ideology-biased attitudes by twisting the facts and intentions.
The entire process of the compact has gone through consultations with multiple stakeholders at different levels, under six different prime ministers of Nepal. It is pathetic to raise questions, guided by self-interest, on a few terms and conditions of a program that could be exemplary in terms of scope, timing, and execution. First, it should be noted that none of the terms and conditions were developed unilaterally. Second, the terms and conditions are not for any loan. These are aimed exclusively for the betterment of the Nepali people. But some political professionals do not like this idea.
Further, the MCC-NC’s terms and conditions also reflect Nepal government’s current picture as well as its overall performance in the past few decades. Additionally, these terms serve as a feedback for future planning and program development, if politicians are willing to pay attention. For example, Nepal has not been able to execute a single so-called national pride project within the given timeframe and budget. Both the total costs and timelines for all 22 national price projects have at least doubled—and these projects are yet to be completed. That’s a fact.
Just look at the Melamchi project, which is incomplete even after 22 years. Interestingly, not a single NCP member raised a question when its contractor was kicked out by the concerned ministry during the project’s final lap. Why were the current ultra-nationalist NCP members silent? Everybody knows how their claim of zero-corruption collapsed then.
Some NCP folks have also raised another conspiracy theory against the MCC-NC. The comrades who strongly advocate China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) assume that the compact challenges it. These comrades are comparing apples with oranges. The BRI projects will incur loans of unknown terms and conditions, whereas the compact is an aid project with full transparency.
Let me ask just one question: When the US States accepted over 90,000 Bhutanese refugees from Nepal, did anybody raise a question about its motive? After the establishment of diplomatic relations between Nepal and the US in 1948, people of Nepal have benefited by many altruistic acts of the US. The recent controversy may reverse this course.
Commoners now realize that the ulterior motive of this ruling class is to enrich themselves by institutionalizing corruption and protecting their comrades’ crony capitalism. For instance, the government has secretly benefitted its near and dear business houses by mobilizing Nepal Trust’s properties (former king’s land). This only shows that Nepal is both ruled and ruined by a few individuals. Again, not a single member of the NCP raised a question about such opaque dealings.
The NCP and its ruling class use their communist propaganda machine to influence public opinion, and there are plenty of parrots to sing to their tunes. As Mark Twain once wrote: “Morals, religions, and politics get their following from surrounding influences and atmospheres, almost entirely; not from study, not from thinking.” The people of Nepal should not be victims of the comrades’ intra-party feuds and shenanigans.