Monday, 12 April, 2021

Plea For Accommodative Leadership

Mukti Rijal


Nepal is pushed into the state of political uncertainty and dilemma due to the brazen competitive approach and behaviour of the Nepal Communist Party (NCP) leadership. This is a crude manifestation of competitive leadership bent on outwitting the rivals regardless its larger implications and broader negative consequences for the organisation itself and the nation. Needless to say, positive leaders can manage and address dissensions and differences from within. They seek to collaborate and use skills for conflict mitigation to avoid untoward and destructive results.
But those leaders who have competitive temperament and behaviours are always predisposed to confront and engage in feuding to extract maximum leverage and advantage from power tussle. Others who are effortful not to allow divisive tendencies to wreck the unity, continuity and flow of politics are accommodative leaders. The key difference between competitive and accommodating styles of leaders is that a competitive style of leader wants to win, while the accommodating leader is prepared to accommodate the rivals' interests for building and cementing harmony, unity and relationships.

Accommodation involves self-sacrifice, generosity and yielding to another point of view even if it clashes with one’s own personal interests. Nepal today needs accommodative type of political leadership. Accommodation of diversity is necessary both at the party and the wider political, social and cultural levels. Accommodation and tolerance of differences at the party level means handling dissensions and conflicts within the party in a manner that not only stitches the ruptures but also results into win-win settlement for broader interest.
At the broader political, social and cultural level, integrative type leadership is needed to accommodate various dimensions of social and cultural interests. This is important at the present federal context of the country. The federal governance institutions are at the very incipient stage of development yet to be fully capable to deliver to meet the aspirations of the people. Moreover, democratic practices are yet to be made institutionally operative and functional. The country’s situation can precipitate into a mess, if balanced, prudent and tolerant decisions are not taken through a sense of accommodation.
In fact, what the party leaders do today determines to which direction the country will be heading tomorrow. Whether we will live together in harmony and peace in a democratic and tolerant society respecting each other with due accommodation and collaboration or drive   ourselves into conflict and animosities generated and fuelled by personal biases or prejudices   is totally based on the decision the leaders take and act today. Moreover, in case the country witnesses a further deepening and intensifying of intraparty conflicts for serving the crass myopic interests of competing political leader, it will bring ominous results and destructive consequences. It is in this context that a visionary leadership with holistic foresight and clear strategy at local, provincial and federal level is needed in the country.
Such a positive and accommodative leadership can have the courage to cross the boundaries of the party factions and take lead in stitching broader political and social differences for the larger good of the nation. In fact, the need of hour is positive and accommodative leadership at different levels. The positive leadership having an integral vision can prevent the society from getting polarized and divided. Such a leadership sews the diverse factions of the party and broader and diverse societal interests into a fine fabric of a democratic society where everyone can live together in harmony with dignity and respect.
Integrative and accommodative leaders emerge out of positive outlook, temperament and practice. In the past, we have the examples of B.P. Koirala, Manamohan Adhikari and Ganesh Man Singh, among others, who rose above the parochial tendencies and factional interests to provide leadership for the larger interests of the nation. Mahatma Gandhi in India can be cited as examples of integrative and positive leadership. Similarly, Nelson Mandela in South Africa is cited to be brilliant example of the integrative and accommodative leadership. In fact, his integrative vision was instrumental to transform South Africa from a racist and apartheid nation into a democratic society.
South Africa especially during the apartheid era was a highly polarised and divided society. Divisions not only existed between the Black and the White but there were also intra-party splits based on personalities, ethnicity, class, culture, religion and language. 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 forces and democratic forces represented a by the African National Congress (ANC). The apartheid white minority rule had manipulated the tribal divides to perpetuate and strengthen its grip on the power.

In fact, had not Nelson Mandela given leadership with integral and accommodative vision, South Africa would have been split into ethnic enclaves embroiled into conflicts and differences. Needless to say, leaders with integral vision, therefore, commit themselves to seeing as much of the larger picture as possible. However, today leaders in our country appear to be demagogues and parochial. They stick to their oft repeated position grounded on the assertion of their narrow political and factional interests.
Positive leaders should seek to build partnerships and alliances to integrate the society and forge common destiny of the Nepalese people. Leaders in our federal polity should not do anything that consequently leads to tear the larger unity of the own party and the nation even though such moves can serve their short term interests. The division of Nepal Communist Party due to competitive and squabbling leadership has dashed the hope and aspirations of the people.

(Rijal, PhD, contributes regularly to TRN and writes on contemporary political, economic and governance issues.