Sunday, 29 November, 2020

A Proposal For Leadership Transfer

Gopal Khanal

Both ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) and opposition Nepali Congress (NC) are now going through severe internal crisis largely owing to their 'failed' leadership. Their leaders hardly discuss the matter of development, they often indulge in futile infighting for power, post and perks. Their disputes have entered into the personal level. Their blame game has turned nastier and is serious in nature. Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, also NCP chairman, and another chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda' are trading barbs against each other. The chairmen duo had declared themselves as the co-pilots of the new NCP jet and also vowed to transform the country into a developed one but they are sadly exchanging offensive and disgraceful words.
When Prachanda presented a 19-page political document, which is full of allegations against Prime Minister Oli, at the party secretariat meeting on 13 November, this further worsened the intra-party conflict. By going against the spirit of unification, Prachanda demanded that Oli make 'sacrifices' implying that he should resign as Prime Minister to save the party and the federal democratic republic. Though Prime Minister Oli has not reacted to Prachanda's political document, PM’s close aides have asked the latter to withdraw it to avoid the possible party split, insisting that the report is apolitical and full of baseless and fabricated allegations which tarnish the image of the PM. But Prachanda 's loyalists have said they want it to be discussed in the meeting.

Turbulent jet
It seems the co-pilots are flying through turbulent towards a disaster, threatening the life of all its passengers. But, the more unfortunate thing is the thoughts and acts of the majority of the passengers, who are choosing death over life. They are adding fuel to the fire, unnecessarily provoking the co-pilots. The bizarre scene is that the so-called second generation leaders have not yet mustered their courage to stake their claim to the leadership in both NCP and NC. Neither have the second generation leaders aged between 50 and 60 shown their potential to lead the parties, nor could they have launched collective movement against their bosses above 70, who are still reluctant to pass the baton to their juniors.
Amid this frustrating inner-party wrangling, Prime Minister Oli has floated the idea of transferring leadership to the second-rung leaders. This proposition has created ripples in the domestic politics. Some have welcomed the proposal while others have interpreted it as a tactic to manage the NCP’s fierce tussle. Following the extreme pressure upon him to sacrifice, Oli said he is ready to sacrifice by handing over the leadership to the next generation leaders. Oli is the first leader, who has formally announced the leadership transfer.
The first generation of Nepali leaders, who are around 70 years old or above, have almost failed to meet the aspirations of the people. Leaders like Prachanda, Sher Bahadur Deuba, Madhav Kumar Nepal, Jhalanath Khanal, Baburam Bhattarai, Narayankaji Shrestha and Ishwar Pokharel have spent much in politics and given maximum to the nation. Seemingly, they have nothing more to contribute to the nation. Among their contemporaries, Prime Minister Oli is relatively a better leader, who has, at least, led the country towards development and prosperity by ending a long political transition.
Therefore, Oli's point is very rational - the leadership of the party and the government should be given to the second generation based on meritocracy. Why should Oli hand over premiership to Prachanda? Why should he hand the post of chairman to MK Nepal? Both are Oli’s contemporary and the people had already tested them by sending to power. So it is crystal clear that Prachanda and Nepal can’t be alternative to Oli because alternatives should be better and more credible. If Oli has to sacrifice, Prachanda and Nepal should also sacrifice and become ready to pass the mantle. In that sense, Oli's proposal is timely and will also solve the internal wrangling of the party.

Is 2nd generation different?
The transfer of leadership to the next generation should not be limited to rhetoric. It should be reflected in action. Normally, when the party leadership is unable to come out of a quandary, there is often a demand for the transfer of leadership to the next generation. The senior leaders of NCP and NC are facing the internal crisis. There is a huge debate in both the parties on who will lead the party next, but the current leadership has not been challenged by the second generation leaders. The second or third generation of leaders might have talked about changing the party leadership but they have seldom raised their voice with unity so as to develop a system.
The leadership transfer is always welcome. But that alone cannot be decisive factor in bringing about changes in the political set-up that the country is desperately searching for. One thing is sure: If the parties function in the current manner, there will be no change, no matter which generation assumes their leadership. Another unfortunate part is that the majority of the second generation leaders in Nepali politics do not believe in their capability, they play sycophancy and seek the blessings from their senior ones to get the position in the parties. They are not any different from current leadership. Nonetheless, the second generation can be an alternative to the gerontocrats, who are holding the whip hand of the party.

(Khanal is consulting editor at Gorkhapatra Corporation.

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