Wednesday, 14 April, 2021

Polls Enrich Democracy

With the promulgation of new constitution in 2015, Nepal embarked on a new political journey. It underwent drastic structural changes on the back of Janaandolan II. The Constituent Assembly (CA), elected in 2008, abolished the 240-year-old monarchy. It was replaced by the republican order. Similarly, unitary governance system gave way to the federal system based on three-tier government – federal, provincial and local. The country also became secular from a Hindu state. These seismic structural changes bear huge significance for Nepal that is one of the world’s oldest nations and has maintained independence throughout its history. The systemic transformation, as outlined in the national charter, reflect the people’s perennial aspirations to live a life of prosperity, peace and happiness.

In 2017, the historic three-tier elections were held, setting a milestone in consolidating the new political system. The Left Alliance of erstwhile CPN-UML and CPN-Maoist Centre pulled off a resounding victory in the polls, riding the wave of nationalist sentiments which swept the nation in the aftermath of the 2015 Indian blockade on Nepal. The two parties, which later unified into Nepal Communist Party (NCP), succeeded to capture the imagination of the people with their promise of delivering stability, prosperity and good governance to the country. The Alliance mustered near two-thirds majority in the federal parliament and formed governments in six out of seven provinces. This enabled the NCP to constitute the strongest government in decades. NCP chair KP Sharma Oli took on the mantle of government leadership, with his signature campaign – Prosperous Nepal, Happy Nepali.

But unfortunately, the NCP-led government did not sail smoothly. The party-government rift got intensified three years after it was formed. The failure to manage the internal dispute prompted the PM to dissolve the House of Representatives (HoR) and seek a fresh mandate. But the Supreme Court (SC) verdict nullified his move and restored the HoR. In yet another decision, the SC invalidated the unification of UML and Maoist Centre and pushed their status to pre-reunification phase. Politically, this turned Oli-led government into minority though it is technically in majority as the Maoist Centre has not yet withdrawn its support. Now the political situation appears to be unclear at the moment.

However, the other day, PM Oli made it clear that the nation has not plunged into any sort of crisis. He dismissed the arguments that the constitution and federal republic was in jeopardy. Addressing a function in the capital, he said: “There is no rhyme or reason with those who state that elections will endanger Loktantra.” The PM said he had taken the court’s verdict to annul his decision to dissolve the HoR easily, and added that he had stood for the press freedom and freedom of expression. PM Oli is right when he said that elections do not impair democracy. Instead, it institutionalises and strengthens democracy and its inherent values. No matter which party is in the driving seat of government, it is the election that provides a definite course to the nation. The political parties finally go to the people to test their popularity and get the approval of their programme and agenda. Moreover, the people award and punish the parties based on their performance in the government and parliament.