Tuesday, 28 September, 2021

Correcting Nepal’s Political Course

Bhupa P. Dhamala

CPN-UML chairman KP Sharma Oli has taken his oath of office as 43rd Prime Minister of Nepal standing at precarious balance wanting to garner support from his party fellowmen as well as other political forces to gain the vote of trust once again within one month. With his fresh appointment, two mutually opposed opinions have surfaced in political arena. Whereas some of his political opponents have labeled this incident as return to regression, his staunch supporters, on the contrary, have hailed him as the most ever progressive Prime Minster. At the spectrum of these two extremes lie critical supporters including some prominent ones from within his own party.
Howsoever, different viewers see this event, one thing is undeniable: the second coming of the same Prime Minister has lost the vigour that he once had when he first ascended to the office with near two-thirds majority support after the first general election held for the House of Representatives as per the newly promulgated constitution of Federal Republic of Nepal. Yet, he still has full capacity on behalf of the party chair, no less knowledge and skill does he have personally, in spite of his fragile position of premiership, to rectify the situation to a considerable extent and bring into order the things disheveled.

Self-critical review
Among others the most important thing he has to immediately do is make self-critical review within his own mind of the unfortunate events that were triggered by his unscrupulous decisions and actions throughout the year. At opportune moment he may have to offer valid and genuine reasons why ordinances were issued while parliament was intact, why the House was dissolved while the government commanded near two-thirds majority, and what were the circumstances that impelled the lawmakers of ruling party abstain from the process of voting. Trivial though these issues might seem to the Prime Minster and his stalwarts, these events have nonetheless left the nation with indelible mark of extra normal events that would otherwise cause political uncertainty nobody knows how long and to what extent.
The political dissidents during his earlier tenure, both as the Prime Minister and the chairman of the then NCP and now NCP-UML, can by no means be exempt from the year-long political turmoil and turbulence causing national chaos and confusion. Had they not spilled their internal imbroglio over the media and political opponents crossing the border of political ethic and party discipline, the disaster would not have swollen at such big size and scale. In terms of political party procedures, they fare no better either. It is thus essential that they should also self-criticise their behaviour at least in their mind and stop doing “much ado about nothing”. Reconciliation between the ideologically close parties is inevitable whether one likes it not if they really want to put wrong things right.

No need to mull over the reasons for these unfortunate events that have nearly ruined the state affairs or at least retarded the pace for national development. Everybody knows what this fuss was all about. Any attempt to go back to the root causes might trigger yet another rift which will devastate the nation to its worst. So it is wise not to delve much into the debatable issues of who was responsible and to what extent but rather it is essential to divert the controversial issues for the time being in the face of national crisis caused by life threatening pandemic of COVID-19.
As the nation is badly battered by the pandemic, so it is severely suffering from economic ailment. The pandemic has already ravaged the whole nation where thousands have succumbed to death leaving behind them millions miserably suffering. Even as the survivors are recovered, many of them cannot go back to work because they have either lost the job or at least they are physically inert. Not knowing how long the pandemic reigns with terror in the globe, Nepal has to fix at least two priority agenda – fight against the raging pandemic both with preventive and curative measures and revive the national economy with substantial programmes and policies. For both agenda, Premier Oli has to unite the whole nation, let alone dissidents of his own party.

Remedial Antidote
Whereas the pandemic is a temporary phenomenon that we hope will disappear after a while, socio-economic ailment may cause lasting effects. So the Prime Minister should invite all stakeholders – friends and foes alike – to join hands together and heave the burden of responsibilities from each shoulder. The antidote to the poison of both ailments is national unity based on substantial agenda. Compromise for the sake of only power sharing between the political forces does not suffice. Seasonal ceasefire may be merely a playful solution to the vast problem.
Socio-economic reformation is a perennial process but we need to instantly start it with new vision and concrete plan. Unfettered capitalism may accelerate economic development but it cannot provide social justice so interventionist approach is essential. This interventionist approach can be socialism of national consensus because each political party advocates socialism as panacea albeit in differing forms and degrees.
In this context, Premier Oli has to invite veteran economists of the nation together with political actors to discuss and reach conclusion about what exactly can be Nepali type of socialism and how it can be achieved. Socialism can only be a common thread which can bring different political forces together and be an infallible remedy to the current problems. The same can be an effective tool to rectify the derailed Nepali political course. Unless political course is brought back on track, nothing wonderful can happen.

(Professor of English, TU (Rtd.), the author is the chairman of Molung Foundation. bhupadhamala@gmail.com)