In Nepal nowadays, the predominant news is the accomplishment of the recently completed local elections and the upcoming parliamentary elections. In the process of selecting candidates the respective political parties need to be very alert. Equally, while voting for their desired candidates, the electorates need to give utmost importance on who they are selecting. These groups of people the political parties give tickets to contest the elections and those whom the electorates later vote for to win elections need to have certain important qualities. They need to be equipped with both good governance and management skills that will help them steer and manage the country and serve the citizens.
As the elected group of people become lawmakers and executives of the country, it is very important to screen the people who get the party tickets. In most South Asian countries like Nepal, usually the party tickets go to the party cadres who are close to the hierarchy in the political institutions and those who can garner strength based on their networking and power which are mostly achieved due to muscle, mafia and money. Therefore, many a time, the deserving political workers who have taken membership with the pure desire to serve the nation and who show leadership qualities with their unconditional love for the country get side-lined.
Anytime a group of people come together to accomplish an end result, good governance and efficient management skills should be the pre-requisites. Both the activities of good governance and efficient management are the keys to successfully running any institution and definitely the nation. Therefore, at a time when we have just completed the process of electing and putting in place the local governance in all the seven provinces, we need to reflect on whether we have actually paid attention to this aspect while giving the tickets and casting the votes. Have we elected a group of people who have the capacity of making collective decisions to steer the nation? Good governance is about achieving the desired results in the right way.
The right way is mostly shaped by the cultural norms and values of the institution. It should be remembered that there may not be a universal template for good governance. Each institution must tailor its own definition of good governance to suit its needs and values. It is important to reflect here that most of Nepali political parties, especially the major political parties like the Nepali Congress (NC), CPN-United Marxist Leninist (UML) and CPN-Maoist Centre were created based on their democratic or communist ideologies. After the insurgency and civil underground movement, there were voices raised by several minority communities to assert their rights.
The Madhesh movement led to the creation of several Madhesi-focused parties which were institutionalised to raise the voice of the people residing in the southern plains.
Each party was initially set up with the values and norms of the political ideology they adopted. However, most of the parties have now shown traits that they may have diverted from their initial political ideology. During the 1990 people’s movement, the NC and all the left-aligned parties joined together to restore a multiparty system. This unity benefitted the nation. Since then, but especially now, there have been various coalitions among the political parties with different ideologies while contesting the elections. While the unity among the democrats and the left in 1990 was to restore multiparty democracy by sticking to their principle political values, the various coalitions now among parties is mainly to win elections.
Such coalitions now need to be questioned on whether their partnership is based on their values and norms. This is important because it also reflects on the candidates that are fielded for elections. Before casting their votes, the general public should be aware of the fact that the political parties are sticking to their ideologies and are not hoodwinking the people.
Principle of equity
The answers to these questions are import as they chart the future course of governance and management and help to set values and norms for good governance and efficient management of the country. The basic principles of good governance are the principle of equity, where all men women and transgender population have opportunities to maintain and improve their wellbeing. This should be included in the rule of the law which is the legal framework that needs to be made fair and enforced impartially, particularly, the laws on human rights.
It is high time that the political parties reflected on their values and norms to see if they still stuck to what they initially stood up for or have they diverted. In this process they should also reflect on whether they have been able to apply good governance that cater to differing interests to reach a broad consensus on what is in the best interest of all and, where possible, on policies and procedures that affect the nation and its citizens. The people, on the other hand, need to develop the ability to review the candidates fielded during the elections and see if they have the capacity of governing the constituencies they are elected for. In democracy, it is important to have conscious electorates who know what they are looking for in their representatives to the parliament. Before casting the vote it is important to ask if these individuals have the skills and knowledge of what good governance and management is.
(Namrata Sharma is a journalist and women rights email@example.com Twitter handle: @NamrataSharmaP )