Tuesday, 28 September, 2021

Foster Intraparty Unity

Prof. Bhupa P. Dhamala

AS political catchwords have immense power to influence the ordinary people, crafty politicians use rhetorical language, often manipulate it to manufacture ideologies that are no more than false consciousness, and sometimes even distort the truth to mislead the audience. Hundreds and thousands of junior political actors follow their leader thinking what the leader says is absolutely true without trying to know the validity and soundness of their statements. This tendency can lead to the intraparty rift oftentimes which is what exactly is happening in Nepali politics.

Peculiar trait
This is by no means a new phenomenon. Nor is it exclusively applicable to a particular political party. It has indeed become a peculiar trait of Nepali politicians. The leaders and followers of Nepali Congress are engaged in unofficial practices that promote self-interest and factionalism, which is against the spirit of democratic socialism. People’s multiparty democracy is the official line of CPN-UML but its leaders and followers are involved in making organised factions based on the power centre. Each party has at least two factions based on power centre. In each case, the stalwarts deviate from their official programmes and policies, violate the norms and values of democracy, and cross the disciplinary borders established by the party conventions. They form power camps attracting and/or compelling the cadres to stand on their side. The followers are also divided into power camps supporting or protesting the particular leader not so much on the basis of what views they express and what consequences their ideas can have but on the basis of who is more powerful and what facilities they can provide. We can see many followers shifting their power camps without valid and sound political justification.
As a student of political discourse, I have been closely observing the discourses of prominent political leaders who aim to hide their utter failures. Five things can majorly be attributed to the failures of each prime minister after the restoration of democracy and the establishment of republicanism – failure in good governance, failure in implementing socialist economic policies and programmes, failure in cultivating ethical values in culture, failure in balanced international relations, and failure in intraparty management.
Each prime minister deviated from the socialist policies and programmes. NC could not follow BP Koirala’s concept of democratic socialism. Nor could CPN-UML start the programmes of what they call people’s multiparty democracy. They failed in establishing good governance in all sectors: they appointed either a party member or a staunch follower of the appointer for the posts in constitutional bodies or other posts of political nature. So the appointees became accountable to the appointer rather than the institution they belonged to or the state as a whole. As a consequence, good governance has not yet been realised in this country.
In the case of economy too, they promoted crony capitalism and comprador economy in the country. This created a huge gap between the haves and have-nots. Class distinction did not decrease but rather jumped to a higher degree. Even the political actors began to amass wealth by unfair means instead of working for the public good. No egalitarian society could emerge based on equality and social justice.
No prime minster could make attempts to promote socialist culture either. The political actors have become more and more self-centered: they tend to do the unethical deeds; they have promoted individualism against the values and principles of socialism. Social discrimination still persists in several social affairs. Society still remains divided on the issues of caste, ethnicity, gender, and regionality. Most disgustingly, some political leaders tend to work in their own interests with ulterior motives.
The next pitfall of each prime minister was their inability to maintain balanced international relations. While in opposition, they would protest against the hegemonic attitude and behaviour of India. But as soon as they ascended to the office of premiership, they would immediately turn out to be pro-Indian. It seemed as though their government could not sustain if they differed in matters of Indian policy. The immediate past prime minister had tried to demonstrate his patriotic stand in the initial days but later he could not resist. He looked India tilted when he inducted a controversial person as a deputy prime minister in his cabinet. The person had supported the Indian embargo on Nepal. This is enough to suggest that he too followed the footsteps of his predecessors and could not maintain balance in international relations without which we cannot do.
Above all else, the then NC leader GP Koirala and incumbent CPN-UML leader KP Sharma Oli failed to maintain cordial relations with their fellow leaders within the party. In their respective tenure of premiership, they could not settle the debate that arose within their party and thus they dissolved the parliament to divert the internal rift to the election tempo so that the debate would be settled. In Koirala’s case, it worked to some extent, but in Oli’s case, it became counter reflective.
The issues briefly mentioned above should have been the real bones of contention, but more than surprisingly, they have been overshadowed by the trivial issues. The prominent leaders are condemning each other ignoring the people’s aspirations.

Urgency to reunite
Now is the high time to rectify the derailed course if the political actors want to really save their cause. The second and third tier leaders in each party should immediately intervene the undesirable activities of top leaders. They should break the cordon created by each big giant and support or criticise their move issue wise. They should understand that as long as the political camps based on power center continue, which is neither genuine political principle nor valid method, things will keep worsening. Unless the derailed politics comes back to the right track, self-interests in politics exist and power centres continue to hold. It is thus essential for politicians of each party to instantly reunite on the basis of political principles and methods.

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