People's Review Weekly

Erosion of political ethics

- BY DEEPAK JOSHI POKHREl The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessaril­y reflect People’s Review’s editorial stance.

At present, there is only one issue of discussion wherever one goes. The issue of discussion is why our politician­s have not been able to rise above their partisan interests and work in the best interest of the nation. In every lunch break and coffee discussion, citizens across the country have been constantly questionin­g the performanc­e of Nepal’s politician­s, be it in terms of maintainin­g internal cohesion or having collaborat­ive efforts with other parties to work towards a common national interest.

After several bloodless struggles, we were able to restore democracy in 1991. Within over three decades of our experience with democracy, we have seen politician­s wrangling over powershari­ng, giving short shrift to political ethics. Similarly, we have witnessed the parties splitting over petty issues and interests. Be it Nepali Congress, CPN-UML, or Maoist (Center), there are a faction and sub-faction and leaders dissociate from the parent party to form a new one for their own advantage. The obvious pitfalls are mismanagem­ent and unchecked corruption. Nepal’s major political parties have undergone innumerabl­e divisions and reunions. The Nepali Congress, with two heavyweigh­ts, Sher Bhadur Deuba and Girija Prasad Koirala, experience­d several ups and downs that resulted in the formal division of the party in 2002 but later unified in 2007. Such difference­s also prevailed during the era of Ganeshman Singh,

Krishna Prasad Bhattrai and Girija Prasad Koirala led factions. But they undermined the party’s ideology and system and remained intact despite having difference­s. Though there have been dissent voices in Nepali congress right from day one questionin­g leadership style, it has increased multifold in recent times. At present, the Nepali Congress is not driven by the right values. There are family-based factions and agenda factions. Their only objective is to fulfill their goals even if it comes at the cost of party ideology. Thus the party has become individual­istic, bereft of principles and a weak organizati­onal base resulting from political erosion.

The CPN-UML is no different either. The party is the epitome of faction and sub-faction over petty interest. The people have a vivid memory of the party faction and sub-faction over power sharing.

After the dispute between KP Oli and Madhav Kumar Nepal within the party escalated over the leadership, the latter parted ways to form a new one under his leadership. There were media reports that Madhav Kumar Nepal was eying to lead the party while the stubborn Oli was reluctant to step down. The frustrated Madhav Kumar Nepal split the party and formed a new one under his leadership. This clearly illustrate­s that our leaders are ready to give up their political ideology but not their position and power. The Maoist Centre offers yet another suitable example of the erosion of political ethics among our parties. The party claims itself to be the savior of people mainly the deprived and downtrodde­n communitie­s. It even waged a war against the state saying it would emancipate people. With the signing of the Comprehens­ive Peace Accord, the decade-long armed came to an end in 2006. Now, the people are questionin­g the rationalit­y of the decadelong armed hostility. The leaders who sold them the lofty promise, are fighting over the position and power eroding their political ethics.

It has been a common practice in Nepal to split the parent party and form a new one for personal benefit. This is the reason why Nepal has countless political parties, of which over two dozen have at least one member in Parliament. With a large number of political parties in a country, the chances of disagreeme­nts are higher. As a result, the leaders dissociate from the parent party disregardi­ng the political ethics and morality, only to create a political mess. The Polish historian Adam Michnik once said “Politics and ethics belong to different worlds”.

Adam estimated that contempora­ry leaders across the globe are devoid of political ethics.

He was very much mindful of the fact that leaders will not hesitate to compromise with their ideology, political ethics and morality on power and position. Given the lust for power and position among our present-day leaders, the utterance of Adam Michnik cannot be ruled out altogether. Experience from across the globe shows that, in conjunctio­n with guiding political ideologies, the leaders have miserably failed to incorporat­e three key principles— political compromise, constructi­ve criticism and innovative protests— into their political agenda to better organize themselves and meet citizens’ expectatio­ns. Clearly, these principles are missing from the ideologies and actions of Nepal’s political parties. Political ethics have been the foundation of vibrant political system throughout the world. It guides the parties and their leaders to be accountabl­e, transparen­t and result-oriented. In any functionin­g democracy, the people do not have to worry when they have leaders endowed with political ethics and morality. But sadly, this is not the case in Nepal. Instead, we are endowed with leaders who lack morality, political ethics and integrity.

Nepal is entering a new dawn of prosperity with lasting peace and sustainabl­e developmen­t. It calls for leaders with ethics and morality to turn this into a reality. It also requires peoplecent­ric and resultorie­nted leaders. But, do we have leaders with these qualities, ethics, morality and integrity? Can our leaders bury their hatchets and reach a consensus for the broader national and common interests? This is a question that every Nepalese needs a convincing explanatio­n.

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