Saturday, 4 December, 2021

Intra-Party Feud Causes Instability

Bhupa P. Dhamala


In contrast to the general assumption that practices are based on theories – as with our theories, so with our practices – we seem to have indeed been indulged in quite the opposite. So a queer phrase can be used to cover the contemporary Nepali politics in reverse order – as with our practices, so with our theories. The contemporary politicians tend to justify their actions on the basis of their personal judgment and try to theorise them to their own benefit. They like to see themselves through their own lens, a Narcissistic practice, not at all caring how others see them.

Years of turmoil
When political awareness entered into Nepalese soil with a campaign against the tyrannical Rana Regime in 1940s, political leaders dreamt of making Nepal an earthly paradise. The fact that some of the freedom fighters sacrificed their lives is the evidence that the then political actors did have the sense of social service, that they were guided by values and principles, that they had the sense of ethics, and that they acted by their conscience and wisdom. This feeling of public interest enabled them to throw off the totalitarian form of government in 1951 declaring the advent of democracy in the country.
The ensuing years did not witness peace and stability, however. From 1951 to 1960 political uncertainty of one kind prevailed. Only in 1959, Bishweshwar Koirala became the first democratically elected Prime Minister in Nepal but in no time King Mahendra removed him from his position and introduced the party-less Panchayat system calling it the most democratic system suited to the Nepali soil and climate.
Then the anti-Panchayat movement was launched respectively led by Nepali Congress on the one hand and Nepal Communist Party on the other sometimes jointly and very often separately. After the incessant struggle against the Panchayat system for 30 years the alliance of NC and NCP factions overthrew the undemocratic Panchayat system and restored multiparty democracy in 1990. The new constitution was promulgated and the election was held. But no sooner had Giraja Koirala assumed his office of premiership than the intra-party conflict raised its head. We underwent the troubled years of turmoil and political instability with the rise of Maoist party and its activities.
With the joint movement of political parties including Maoists, monarchy ended its regime in Nepal and the republican system was introduced in the first decade of 21st century. The new constitution of federal republic was promulgated, election was held, and NCP formed the government with almost two-thirds majority seats in parliament with lofty promises of making Prosperous Nepal, Happy Nepali. But unfortunately the majority government could not assume its office for full term due to its unintended intra-party conflict. We have thus seen three major turbulent events that abruptly changed the political courses of Nepal causing always the political turmoil. Until this time Nepal has not undergone peace and stability.
Why is it that even the majority led governments failed oftentimes, let alone coalition governments that were made out of hung parliament? There must be grave reasons behind these undesirable events. Among others one obvious reason is an ever unsettled issue of relation between the party and the government. There has not been adequate discussion and consensus on whether the ruling party can dictate the decisions and actions of Prime Minister or it can simply advise him/her so he/she can act independently being directly accountable to the people.
Not to mention the incident of King’s takeover with the removal of Bishweswar Koirala from the office, the party-government conflict surfaced at the time of government led by Girija Koirala in 1990s and KP Oli led government this time. In both cases the respective Prime Ministers blamed the party leaders not cooperating with them, who were compelled to dissolve the parliament asking for the fresh mandate from the people. Commotion has ensued indicating no substantial discussions on the core issue yet. This is the bleak picture of contemporary picture of Nepalese politics.

Uncertain Future
Looking at the way politics is running its course that involves serious conflict between the two warring groups, neither side seems to win in the real sense. The ruling faction is not likely to create election tempo with full consensus of the people and parties as was the case in the last election. No matter how loudly they tell they will win the election with two-thirds majority that is no more than a farce considering the nature of present state of division.
On the other hand, the dissident faction is not likely to bring the whole party into unity either. They cannot forge unity with full enthusiasm that will lead the nation with unified spirit. Needless to reiterate, Nepal has long been suffering with the ailment of often changed government forming and reforming the political equation between the parties tending to not serve people’s interests. In present situation no one can guarantee this will not happen in the future. In either way the picture is dismal. The sky seems to be covered by the dark clouds. No bright sun seems to loom on the horizon if things continue the way they are now.
The current imbroglio leads to nowhere. It is thus essential that the major leaders of the ruling party should not be such obstinate. No matter how capable and honest each faction claims itself, no side nonetheless is absolutely correct. They should understand that no one can become the justice of their own cause. Independent thinkers wish their ultimate unity proving themselves to be exemplary to the other parties as well, which can bring political stability to the full satisfaction of the people.

(Professor Dhamala is the Chairman, Molung Foundation.