As an art of running the affairs of state for broader public wellbeing, politics forms the central nerve, impacting almost every sphere of human endeavours. Political upheavals of various hues have become instrumental in bringing about transformative changes in the society. However, it has increasingly become derogative phenomenon because of the political actors’ obsessive penchant for abusing powers, resources, and unchecked acts of malfeasance. When politics is practiced for meeting parochial goals or used to mask odious motives of its players, it loses sanctity and rationale much to the chagrin of the masses.
There has been a tendency among the politicians to create and spread false narratives to justify their defective arguments and impulsive actions. At a time when the digital and social media have become all-powerful means to spread information and disinformation, it is easy to enforce post-truth politics where facts and truth are superseded by personal beliefs, biases and emotions when it comes to perceive, react and decide on the vital public issues. Politicians knowingly and unknowingly carry the baggage of contradictions as they preach their self-claimed morality and principles.
False narratives are fictitious accounts of events or experiences created with the intention of misguiding the targeted audience. Its fabricators limit the alternative narratives to conceal the truth. False narratives are based on false consciousness, which, according to Marxists, denotes ‘inability of the proletariat (working class) to recognise inequality and exploitation in a capitalist society and acceptance of this oppressive condition as common truth'. Instead of fighting the false consciousness, they are misled to perpetuate their own exploitation at the hands of a few. False narratives have a larger section of audience than the credible news. They stay longer in the mind of people and do not go away easily.
Nepali politics abounds in spurious narratives that undermine historical facts and betray people’s desires for freedom, equality and dignity of life. One such false narrative is the defending of dissolution of House of Representatives (HoR) by CPN-UML chairman KP Sharma Oli. Speaking at trainers’ orientation programme organised by Bagmati Province Committee in Kathmandu recently, Oli argued that by dissolving the parliament, he successfully foiled reactionaries’ conspiracy to finish the party. According to him, it was an indispensable move with political, constitutional and parliamentary ground. “They had a ploy to smash our organisation, Nepali communist movement and the movement of change. We thwarted it. Following the dissolution, the party has again become strong,” claimed Oli.
Former prime minister Oli had dissolved the Lower House twice after the intra-party conflict within the then Communist Party of Nepal (CPN) took a nasty turn. It was true that Oli had fallen in minority both in the party’s central committee and Parliamentary Party. If the House was not dissolved and the CPN remained unified, Oli might have been removed from the premiership. In order to prevent imminent threat to his premiership, he dissolved the parliament. The Supreme Court reinstated the HoR, dismissing the dissolution as unconstitutional and regressive decision. The subsequent events showed that the dissolution was undemocratic and immoral act, whose repercussions have continued to roil Nepali politics till now.
There are no historical, constitutional, political, ethical and practical bases to justify the HoR dissolution. History is a witness to irrefutable verity that the country has plunged into the vicious cycle of instability and autocracy after the parliament was disbanded. In 1960 when king Mahendra dissolved the first democratically elected parliament that was later replaced by party-less Panchayat, the country was forced to reel under authoritarian system for three decades. One must not forget the stand of CPN and its founding general secretary Pushpa Lal Shrestha against the dissolution of the first parliament. He vehemently protested the royal takeover and demanded the reinstatement of the dissolved parliament to resume legitimate democratic process although the CPN had just four lawmakers and Nepali Congress had two-thirds majority in the House. He knew the parliament was the ultimate bastion of democracy and civil liberty.
The parliament, reinstated in the aftermath of 2006 April Uprising, had set the stage for the landmark political changes, leading to the elections of the Constituent Assembly and promulgation of the new constitution in 2015. The dissolution of the HoR, formed following the first general elections under the new constitutional arrangement, was betrayal of people’s faith in the communist parties and aspirations for the positive change in their own life time. They handed an overwhelming majority to the then Left Alliance of UML and CPN-Maoist Centre, which had promised to deliver stability, good governance and prosperity in the election. The dissolution was also the betrayal of the communist movement that reached the zenith with the formation of the powerful communist government in the country’s history.
The CPN dispensation had a robust mandate to translate the grand vision of socialism-oriented constitution into action. With the dissolution, it missed a golden opportunity to carry out sweeping reforms in the Nepali society that grappled with structural crises on multiple fronts. The dissolution led to a division of the NCP into at least three groups, with the leaders indulging in the perpetual blame game. It thus marked the steep decline of Nepali communists as demonstrated by the November 20, 2022 polls. To claim that the UML has become strong is like burying one’s head in the sand. The UML lost significant number of seats in federal and provincial parliaments, depriving it of chances to form government in the centre and provinces. The Maoist Centre and other fringe left parties also suffered humiliating drubbing in the polls.
Moreover, the dissolution put the national politics on the slippery slope, generating people’s disenchantment with the mainstream parties. The last general elections dealt a blow to them and unleashed a wave in favour of new political forces. The writing is on the wall for the big parties but they are still hesitating to acknowledge the warning. Therefore, it is a ludicrously false claim that the House dissolution was a right move. Until this false narrative is disrobed, there is a slim chance for Nepali communist movement in general and the UML in particular to make a decisive comeback.
(The author is Deputy Executive Editor of this daily.)