Politi­cal Sta­bil­ity: Los­ing Bat­tle

People's Review - - LEADER - BY P. KHAREL

The ding-dong man­ner in which the prime min­is­te­rial chair changes its oc­cu­pant in Nepal mocks at the ex­ist­ing politi­cal prac­tices in Nepal. Mar­riage of op­por­tunism is the or­der of the day, with­out bat­ting an eye­lid. They have no qualms about the ex­pe­di­ency they re­sort to. Mar­riage of op­por­tunism breeds du­bi­ous deal-mak­ers. In the last change in govern­ment, when he was, un­der prior agree­ment, to hand over power to Nepali Congress leader Sher Ba­hadur Deuba, Da­hal told the na­tional ad­dress in an at­tempt to prove that he lived to his com­mit­ment. The Deuba-Da­hal deal in shar­ing the top job al­ter­na­tively did not con­form to any or­der of the best in a func­tion­ing democ­racy. Iron­i­cally, Da­hal, who jay­walked on com­mit­ments made pub­lic, tried but failed to make cap­i­tal out of the farce. The pub­licly could see through the vainly bid to make a virtue out of com­pul­sion with the al­ter­na­tive of hav­ing his in­creas­ingly un­pop­u­lar Maoist party (Com­mu­nist Party of Nepal—Unity Cen­tre) off the seat of power. Deuba sang pro­fuse praise of the man he was in the process of re­plac­ing. It was a sham that bub­bled out when Da­hal, true to his char­ac­ter, bonded with the main op­po­si­tion, CPN (UML), on the eve of the dead­line to reg­is­ter can­di­dates for the im­pend­ing general elec­tions. UNIN­SPIR­ING IN­NINGS: Prime Min­is­ter Deuba never had any in­spir­ing in­nings, he is cer­tain to give con­ti­nu­ity to this un­flat­ter­ing trait of his. This would not be do­ing any­thing new, though. His pre­de­ces­sors in the 11 years of lok­tantrik Nepal had paved the way for the in­famy. All past three De­bua-led gov­ern­ments proved jinxed for both his party and the na­tion. This time, too, all in­di­ca­tions are of things not im­prov­ing. On the diplo­matic front, good neigh­bourli­ness re­quires care­ful plan­ning and de­ter­mined im­ple­men­ta­tion of poli­cies. In this re­gard, the pan­chayat decades were much bet­ter, fol­lowed by the “demo­cratic years” un­til 2005. Lok­tantric years have dras­ti­cally af­fected the coun­try's im­age and rep­u­ta­tion on ac­count of many agen­das and de­ci­sions be­ing made at the be­hest of for­eign forces. It may be re­called that Pushpa Ka­mal Da­hal shed all qualms to abruptly an­nounce a pub­lic hol­i­day when In­dian President Pranab Mukher­jee vis­ited Nepal. The In­dian govern­ment de­puted a min­is­ter of state to re­ceive President Bid­hya Devi Bhan­dari who was on a “good­will visit” to New Delhi. In­dian Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi per­son­ally re­ceived Bangladeshi Prime Min­is­ter Hasina Wa­jed in New Delhi. The con­trast was too re­cent and glar­ing to go un­noted, es­pe­cially against the back­ground of the pub­lic hol­i­day that greeted Mukher­jee in “lok­tantrik” Nepal. There are some sec­tions in Nepal and India with ex­ag­ger­ated em­pha­sis that the two coun­tries share “same­ness” in nu­mer­ous re­spects, in­clud­ing the “roti aur beti” (bread and daugh­ter) ties. Cul­ture, lan­guage and re­li­gion form part of this “same­ness” be­tween the two con­tigu­ous neigh­bours. In many ways, in­deed, th­ese are es­tab­lished facts. How­ever, there are more Hin­dus in Bangladesh and Pak­istan com­bined than in Nepal which was till re­cently, and might re­turn in fu­ture, a Hindu state. Same­ness does not jus­tify any dent in the sovereignty of an in­de­pen­dent na­tion. Last Novem­ber, a month af­ter Chi­nese President Xi abruptly can­celled his visit to Nepal, Deuba, as former pre­mier, ad­dressed a con­fer­ence in India, also at­tended by the “prime min­is­ter” of the Ti­betan govern­ment-in-ex­ile. Shed­ding diplo­matic dis­cre­tion, For­eign Min­is­ter Prakash Sha­ran Ma­hat held a press brief­ing to deny news re­ports on Deuba rub­bing shoul­ders with the Ti­betan “prime min­is­ter” as “a fig­ment of imag­i­na­tion, false and mo­ti­vated”. Ma­hat's party se­nior and general-sec­re­tary Shashank Koirala, how­ever, de­scribed his party president's “re­ported par­tic­i­pa­tion” as “in­ap­pro­pri­ate and to China's ir­ri­ta­tion”. The largest party in a func­tion­ing democ­racy be­comes the main part­ner in a coali­tion but not in Nepal. The past 18 months are wit­ness to the largest party in par­lia­ment be­ing in the op­po­si­tion seats or be­ing led by not the sec­ond but the third largest group­ing headed by Da­hal. As the two largest par­ties in par­lia­ment, the Congress and the UML did not find a com­mon ground be­tween them­selves to form “a grand al­liance”. POWER POL­I­TICS: Sheer crav­ing for power is what ails pol­i­tics in Nepal. This has been the pat­tern since the dawn of democ­racy in 1951. The ex­ist­ing state of af­fairs has its an­tecedents in May 2002 when a duly elected govern­ment headed by Deuba dis­solved the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, only to re­tract and seek un­con­sti­tu­tional post­pone­ment with risks of in­def­i­nite spell of the sus­pen­sion. Hold­ing the elec­tions in it­self is noth­ing to be proud of. The ex­cru­ci­at­ing de­lay in con­duct­ing elec­tions for lo­cal bod­ies stands as a stark con­fes­sion of a politi­cal crime that de­prived Nepalis of their right to timely pe­ri­odic vote and lo­cal gov­er­nance through elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives. The pre­vi­ous lo­cal elec­tions were held 20 years ago. Now we wait for the general and pro­vin­cial polls with the least cer­tainty of politi­cal sta­bil­ity re­turn­ing and min­i­mum em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­nity for most Nepalis. This is some­thing the ex­ist­ing dis­pen­sa­tion and its ilk just can­not de­liver, as events time and again have so em­phat­i­cally un­der­scored.

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