Saturday, 6 March, 2021

A Democratic Option

Nepal’s politics now stands at a critical juncture. With the dissolution of the House of Representatives (HoR), the entire political realm has been divided into two lines of thought. One school of thought is that the country should go to the election to pick fresh representatives in the HoR which will give a new government to the nation. Prime Minister and Chairman of the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) KP Sharma Oli is defending this line of argument. On the other, another faction of NCP is against the mid-term election, and has insisted that the HoR should be reinstated to bring politics back on track. Other parties, including main opposition Nepali Congress and Janata Samajwadi Party (JSP) are divided between the election and HoR restoration.

The Supreme Court (SC) has concluded its hearing on the writs against the HoR dissolution. The SC is expected to give the historic verdict within a week. As the political parties, civil society and media are divided over the HoR dissolution, the ruling and opposition parties have engaged themselves in strengthening their popular base at the grassroots. It is no surprise for the parties to go to the people whatever the cause. After all, the people are the ultimate judges who can seal their fate by casting votes in the polls. Be it in elections or in the agitation, the public support is indispensable. One beautiful aspect of democracy is that the parties look to the people when they reach a deadlock over an array of contested issues. Going to the polls is one of the finest attributes of multiparty system, as it settles the tricky matters and renews the popular mandate of the parties. Those who are objecting to the HoR dissolution have not stood against the essence of democratic elections, they only have reservation about the process through which the poll dates were announced.

In a parliamentary system, the PM exercises vital rights to govern the country as per the popular mandate his/her party secures in the election. When the things go against the mandate, the PM seeks constitutional way out so that the confusion and deadlock will not prevail in the country. In his address to a mass meeting held in Biratnagar the other day, PM Oli defended his decision to go to the voters. He said: “The parliament was dissolved after democracy faced a threat. Deciding to go to the people cannot be termed a regressive move.” PM Oli is right when he maintained that it would not be regressive step when the parties participate in the democratic elections.

The NCP had won near two-thirds majority in 2017 elections on the planks of stability, good governance and prosperity. The voters liked these slogans and handed a thumping victory to the Left Alliance of NCP-UML and NCP-Maoist Centre. But the PM failed to get desired support from his senior party colleagues to materialise these goals. As the current composition in the dissolved HoR proved to be a stumbling block to his sweeping development agenda, the PM dissolved it for fresh mandate. The PM also spoke about the possibility of horse trading in the parliament if the HoR is reinstated. This sort of anomaly reappears in case there is a hung parliament. Therefore, going to the voters with clear agenda is the democratic option and needs to be taken with positive note.

How do you feel after reading this news?