Bolster Federal Republican Setup


One and a half decades have elapsed since Nepal was declared a republic, putting an end to the 240-year-old monarchy. On May 28, 2008, the first meeting of the Constituent Assembly (CA) took the historic decision to abolish the kingship from the nation. No sooner had the CA been formed than the monarchy was bidden adieu as the people had mandated the elected body to do so because of growing public aversion towards the kingship. Under the leadership of some major political parties, including the Nepali Congress, the CPN-UML and the erstwhile CPN (Maoist), the Nepali people, had launched a decisive revolution for restoring democracy in the country and abolishing the monarchy. 

Public revolt

Known as the Janaandolan –II, the 19-day crusade waged in April 2006 had forced the then King Gyanendra Shah to return the state power that he had seized after the notorious Royal Massacre to the people. Gyanendra’s growing ambition to take the nation back to the absolute monarchy was one of the main reasons for the abolition of the kingship immediately. Earlier, with the success of the 1990 democratic movement in Nepal, the system of governance had undergone significant change. The role of the palace had been cut off as the nation embraced multiparty democracy with constitutional monarchy, ending the 30-year-old autocratic Panchayat rule. The late King Mahendra had introduced the Panchayat reign to protect the kingship, nipping the hard-won democracy in bud. In the early 1950s, democracy in the country was established because of the people's revolt that had ended the 104-year-old Rana oligarchy once and for all.  

No doubt, the monarchy was an obstacle to the nation’s overall progress and prosperity as the state resources used to be misused massively just for the wellbeing of the royal family. There was rampant poverty nationwide. Most common people had no access to education and health services. With the establishment of republican setup in the country, the people had expected that the new political dispensation would help bring about a desired socio-economic transformation, raising their living standard and leading the nation to the path of economic prosperity and political stability. But what is quite saddening is that things hardly seem to have improved as per the people’s aspirations even after the establishment of republicanism in the country. 

One of the main factors leading to the current frustrating scenario is that the responsible political parties and their leaders have not been able to carry out their responsibilities properly. They appear to have concentrated their efforts more on power plays instead of the much-needed task of nation-building. Consequently, the country has kept going through political instability even after the success of the promulgation of new constitution in 2015. This is evident to the fact that not a single government has been able to complete its full tenure. This trend has badly affected the nation’s development endeavours. Along with political shakiness, there has been policy instability, causing a sense of uncertainty among potential national as well as foreign investors.  

Another worsening aspect is that corruption seems to have been thriving unhindered. Anti-graft bodies like the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) have been trying their best to check fiscal irregularities. Every year, the CIAA files charge-sheets against many civil servants and other executives associated with local and other governments at the Special Court. But most accused are found getting a clean chit after some time as the anti-corruption body fails to produce sufficient evidences to prove them guilty. A wrong tendency of providing political protection to dishonest individuals is equally responsible for a growing level of corruption in the country. Because of unnecessary political interferences, a number of politicians and high-level bureaucrats appear to have escaped graft-related charges.

 When there is no rule of law, fiscal irregularities and other anomalies will continue to exist. Since such aberrations are an obstacle to the process of development and effective service delivery, the nation’s political circle must shun them and act in an accountable manner. As there is no efficient service delivery system in place, the people have been bound to face numerous problems. Because of this, they seem to have been getting fed up not only with the established political parties that had contributed much to bringing about political changes in the past but also the existing system of governance. Cashing in on this, some regressive forces have often tried to raise their ugly head. So, the political parties standing in support of the existing federal republican system must work in such a way that their actions are not in contravention of the interests of the people and the nation.  

Proper solution

Parliament is supposed to formulate necessary laws and discuss important national issues extensively and seek a proper solution to them. But scores of laws related to the implementation of federalism have not been enacted yet. Because of this, the constitution has not come into force in full swing. On one pretext or the other, the federal parliament remains disrupted time and again. When House proceedings do not advance in a smooth manner, there is no possibility of bills being endorsed on time. 

So, the political parties are required to resolve problems through dialogue for running the parliament efficiently.  They also need to forge consensus for advancing the process of institutionalising the political change and carrying on development activities efficiently. An understanding among them is also essential for making the judiciary and constitutional bodies function independently in order to institutionlise federal republican system. Reviving the national economy and creating more jobs within the country is a need of the hour. 

(The author is a former deputy executive editor of this daily.)

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