Sunday, 1 August, 2021

Costing High On Political Stability

Mukti Rijal

The bickering within the leadership of the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) has sent shockwaves across the political spectrum. Though the intra-party tussle had been characterised by the fluctuating fissiparous tone for almost a year, the meeting, held between the chairmen duo - Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda - the other day after almost 10-day-long standoff, is reported to be very blunt and categorical. The new round of deadlock seems severe and is feared to lead to the extent of destroying the party’s fragile fabric.
In the elections held three years ago, the NCP had been mandated to rule the country for five-year term and ensure a firm political stability in the country. However, the turmoil within the ruling party has made the social and political stakeholders worry over the uncertain destiny of the hard-earned governance stability and regularity in the country. The country is reeling from unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic that has claimed more than one thousand lives, with the national economy teetering on the edge of abyss. This is the time when the government has to rivet sole focus on leading the country through this turbulent phase. However, the prime minister and party leaders have been entangled themselves in the management of the intra-party conflict that has devolved down and erupted in the Karnali Pradesh too to destabilise the sub-national government leadership.

Incipient stage
Needless to say, the country is yet to put the newly adopted political system on a robust footing and enter a consolidated and stabilised phase of political development. The federal polity instituted following the three-tier polls elections held in 2017 according to the new constitution is being implemented through trial and error - a process that allows room for learning from mistakes and make correction along the way. Several challenges lie ahead to be tackled by the leadership as federal polity is being navigated through uncertain ways and the federal institutions are still at their incipient stage.
In fact, the country’s situation can turn into a chaos if the government leadership is unstable and faces threat of incessant bickering and destabilisation. In fact, the way both government and party leaders conduct themselves today determines to which direction the country heads tomorrow. Whether we will live in harmony and peace in a federal democratic society respecting each other with due accommodation and collaboration or precipitate ourselves    into conflict and animosities generated and fuelled by  political bickering is totally based on the decision the government and party leaders take today. 
It is in this context that a visionary leadership with holistic foresight and clear strategy was needed in the country. Such a positive leadership can have the courage to rise above personal and one's own factional interests. The positive leadership endowed with an integral vision can prevent the politics from being polarised and fragmented with factional interests. Such a leadership sews the diverse party rank and file into a fine fabric of a democratic unity. 
Integrative and accommodative leaders emerge through proper understanding of the situation, outlook, temperament and practice. We have the examples of visionary leaders like late B.P. Koirala and Manmohan Adhikari, among others,who had set the precedence. Mahatma Gandhi in India can be cited as example of integrative and positive leadership. At the international level Nelson Mandela in South Africa is an example of the integrative and accommodative leadership. In fact, his integrative vision was  instrumental  in  transforming  South Africa from a racist and apartheid nation into a democratic society. South Africa especially during the apartheid era was a highly politically polarised and divided society. Divisions not only existed between the Black and the White but there were also splits based on politics, ethnicity, class, culture, religion and language. The apartheid system had bred intolerance a culture of violence and lack of respect for life.
Political violence in South Africa had not only resulted from the contradiction between the White minority apartheid rulers and Black majority people but also between the traditional  tribal  groups  and  democratic  forces  represented and advocated  by  the African National Congress (ANC).   The apartheid  white minority rule had manipulated the tribal divides to perpetuate and strengthen the  grip on power. In fact, had not Nelson Mandela given leadership with integral vision, South Africa would have been split into ethnic enclaves embroiled into conflicts.

Integrative leadership
Political leaders should always strive to hold all sides into confidence and unity. The integral leaders do not exploit the fragile and volatile situation for narrow and parochial interests. Leaders with integral vision, therefore, commit themselves to seeing as  much of  the larger picture as possible. Some leaders in our societies  appear to be demagogues and parochial. They stick to  their  oft-repeated  position  grounded on the assertion of self and factional interest oblivious of the larger interest of the party and society.
Positive leaders should seek to build  partnership and alliances to integrate the society and politics for the sake of forging common destiny. Leaders in our federal polity should not do any thing that leads to  tearing the larger political unity apart even though such moves can serve their short term interests. Both chairs - PM Oli and Prachanda - should take cues from the vision of integrative leadership and uphold the larger interest of the party and nation to keep political unity and stability without being jeopardised.

(Rijal, PhD, contributes regularly to TRN and writes on contemporary political, economic and governance issues. He can be reached at