PM’s remark on ‘People’s Republic’ triggers debate

Kathmandu, September 18:

Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s recent remark that Nepal can neither remain static by following parliamentary democracy nor it can have socialism outright, has ignited strong debate among different political parties. Political parties other than the Maoists interpret the PM’s remark as an advocacy for the People’s Republic.

The communist nations have been terming their transitional system as ‘People’s Republic’ which virtually means one-party rule. The Maoists are trying to use the same word but they want to show that they differ from other orthodox communists.

“By people’s democracy, we mean a system that add resses the concern of marginalised communities and the poor,” Maoist deputy parliamentary leader Posta Bahadur

Bogati said.

Maoist seem to be trying to adopt the features of both parliamentary democracy and socialist system. They call this system superior to parliamentary democracy and inferior to communism. They are intensifying this debate so as to garner support to incorporate these features in the new constitution. Under this system, they want to guarantee consumerism in various sectors but not an unbridled consumerism.

“We want competition, but on some issues we want consensus only to avoid the vices of parliamentary system,” Bogati added.

But this is where the Nepali Congress is worried. Any attempt to minimise the value of number is against democracy, according to the NC. “To negate number means there will be no democracy,” NC leader Dr Prakash Sharan Mahat said.

Interestingly, both the NC and the Maoists will have to explain the public as to how their kind of systems will best serve the interest of the nation in the changed context. Maoists are right when they say parliamentary system failed to address the concerns of the marginalised people in the past. The NC is also right when it says any move to ignore number politics (for good or bad reasons) could, in the long run, lead to autocracy.

Confusion over People’s Republic has surfaced also because the Maoists have not clarified whether it is their present or the ultimate goal.

Though the PM has said the CA will decide what type of political system will the country adopt, parties other than the Maoists, particularly the NC and the Tarai Madhes Democratic Party, blame the ex-rebels of disrespecting the parliamentary democracy by dissolving the ministry of parliamentary affairs.

Mandate of popular movement of 2006 was to restore the basic tenets of democracy and the interim constitution also talks of democratic federal republic not the People’s Republic.

“If the Maoists strategic goal is People’s Republic, then there is no need to make fuss of it. But if they want to make it their present goal, it may adversely affect the peace process because it is not the mandate of popular movement,” said CPN-UML leader Shankar Pokharel. “Maoists’ disrespect for rule of law, particularly on socio-economic issues, gives an impression that they might adopt the path of one-party system. But given our situation, that might not just be possible for them.”