It’s very simple to understand current Nepali politics. It’s a game between two blocks. One is incompetent and the other is extremely corrupt. Yes, the ruling leaders are cunning, corrupt, and hell bent on extending their tenure at the cost of national consensus. What about the opposition leaders? Are they serious and capable to end country’s political impasse? Can they ensure change that the people want to see in politics? The answer, unfortunately, is a big NO.
By Siromani Dhungana
One thing is for sure. The ruling parties have a clear objective: they want to make a lot of money before they leave the government. Leaders from ruling parties are cunning enough to create a catchy phrases and jargons against parties in opposition. They are good at blame game.
What about opposition leaders? They are good for nothing. They do not have a clear agenda, plan, tactic, or vision to solve immediate and long-term challenges that the country faces. Moreover, the high level leadership of opposition parties – namely the Nepal Congress and UML – is not capable to fight against or challenge tactics applied by the UCPN Maoist in Nepal’s politics.
I do not mean that leaders from NC and UML challenge Pushpa Kamal Dahal in changing tones and tactics every second day or rely on propaganda as the Maoists are doing. Nor they should give ‘false hope’ and sell ‘dream of Switzerland’ to people as Maoists did during the insurgency and continue to do so even now.
What all they need to do is resort to pragmatic politics with clear vision and agendas. Politics without vision and ideology is like beating a dead horse which leaders from opposition parties are doing.
People always want change- fresh, new and young. But senior NC leaders are just the opposite- old, stale and bland. Their relevance in national politics has already expired. But the problem is they continue to think that they the country cannot sustain without them. Equally, if not more, dangerous is the fact that they have become a banyan tree that doesn’t let other plants grow beneath it. Old NC leaders have stopped the new generation from taking over the helm of the party.
Sushil Koirala, Sher Bahadur Deuba, Ram Chandra Paudel- the trio, and Krishna Prasad Sitaula, the general secretary, of Nepali Congress have already contributed to the party to the extent they could. Now they should retire. They should pave way to a new generation of leaders to lead the party. Only the new set of leadership can instill energy to the party that it badly needs.
Sher Bahadur Deuba and Ram Chandra Paudel have already been tested. The former prime minister and deputy prime minister, respectively, couldn’t deliver when they got chance. Sushil Koirala and Krishna Prasad Sitaula, as president and general secretary of NC respectively, have completely failed to live up to the hope, expectations of its their own constituencies and general public as well.
If Nepali Congress that considers itself as the synonym of Nepali democracy, has failed miserably in one field that is implementing democracy in its own organization. Intra-party democracy doesn’t exist in Nepali Congress and unless that remains so the party cannot get the public support that it needs.
Sushil Koirala failed to make party’s decision making process democratic and transparent. He has limited himself to a small coterie to take vital decisions while the central working committee has become either irrelevant or ineffective. As Sushil Koirala and Sher Bahadur Deuba surround themselves by a small group of loyalists, a large number of young, intelligent and energetic democrats have been left of the broader NC umbrella. A real loss indeed.
On the other hand, Deuba who lost election to presidency to Sushil Koirala, continues to see himself as the elected ‘president’ of Nepali Congress. His creativity has been confined to interfering or objecting Sushil Koirala’s decisions. Deuba should let Koirala do the job of running the party because it was Koirala who was elected to the post during the general convention of Nepali Congress delegates.
If there is one force that can counter the rising influence of Maoist communists in Nepal, that is Nepali Congress. But this Nepali Congress, filled with incompetent, old and stale leaders, cannot do that job. These NC leaders neither have energy, wisdom and tactical superiority needed to beat the Maoists nor can they inspire and mobilize the masses for the change. On top this all, they all are a bunch of visionless folks.
UML and dillydallying
This brings us to the UML. But the party’s dillydallying on several key issues have made it, at times, a poor copy of the Maoists (though, according to analyst Muma Ram Khanal, the key issues in Maoist’s political document presented in the ongoing seventh general convention in Hetauda, have been lifted out from UML’s youth leader Ghanashyam Bhusal’s paper). Most of its professional fronts want alliance with the UCPN Maoist (for example, UML supporters collaborated with the Maoists to win leadership positions of the Federation of Nepali Journalists and Nepal Bar Association) whereas some leaders, like KP Oli, are so much anti-Maoists that they have also become die-heart supporters of Nepali Congress. The party neither can throw away hammer and sickle from its flag nor can it stop itself from blaming the UCPN (Maoist) of becoming an ultra-leftist group.
So what is the way out? Young leaders must dare to intervene in the intra party affair more forcefully. Icons of peoples’ revolution- Guru Ghimire, Gagan Thapa and Purushottam Acharya who were arrested by the then government in December 2003 for being ‘freedom fighters’- have disappeared from the scene. They must come back and claim the leadership. The leadership must be transferred from Sushil to Gagan, for example, and from Jhalanath to Purushottam, to give name to the young face.
One of the two bad things must have happened to NC and UML in these years: their youth leaders must have indulged themselves in filthy politics or they do not have what it takes to challenge their seniors. Or, is it that they don’t have the ideology and political principles to enthrall people in favor of democracy?