Many thoughtful people worry, even if they do not say so loudly, that Nepali politics is too
complicated and too fluid with non-stop internal bickering and ever shifting landscape. Maoists’ regime tried hard to exercise the Leninist approach for political domination in terms of social, political, and ruling classes than the Gramscian school of Marxism that is more willing to support the
expansion of democratic principles of freedom, equality, and justice. We are concerned whether the present government will mark the beginning of democratization of politics, which in the long run will shed most of the imperfections
prevailing today. So far, Nepal has been captive to a generation of politicians and those at the helm have been concerned merely with utilitarian government; they did not really commit themselves to adopt democratic principles and values.
As acknowledged by many observers, some important contributions in “transitology” can be considered as “elite games.” Similarly, “consolidology” calls for crucial roles of political parties and a vibrant civil society to erect primary edifice of liberal egalitarianism. But, our politicians are concerned for the loss of transitory power rather than far reaching transitional functions; they are still wasting precious time in stale debates to retain some features of Leninist version of authoritarian rule where people are in reality forced to face “demonocracy” or “political sorcery”. The transitional politics has ushered in a new era of institutional building even if in a highly diluted fashion. It has
been ideologically challenging to construct a modern republic, a rule-governed society, and a popular democracy since the democratization process often seems hogwash to be another story of old wine in a new bottle due to pre-eminence of self-centered,
corrupt politicians.The unstable nature of crises of Nepal, however,
facilitates providing opportunities in political arena to be able to make strategic decisions in consonance with the configurations that come to play and to test the rules of the game that constrain political actors’ actions but also provide them incentives, which guarantee the perpetuity of the political order necessary to protect the rights of
the citizens what Almond and Verba call civic culture tradition associated with
the four realms of citizenship-political engagement, democratic participation, political efficacy and democratic identity. Whereas a constitutional government considerably depends ondispersion of power with numerous checks and balances, the politics has
been reduced to a game to capture and cling to power through any means.
While there is no concrete baseline to erect a competitive political regime and set up formal institutions that satisfy certain conditions, the chief malady lies in the omnipresent inconsistency and hypocrisy resulting from the struggle involving Martin Wight’s three contradictory traditions-realism, rationalism and revolutionarism — embedded with rampant corruption riding into the rank and file of the Nepali polity despite the transition from monarchy. We all can perhaps agree that with the demise of state-sponsored communist tyrannies elsewhere and continued dollar support for democracy-promotion, democracy building is but a favored strategy of
the politicians to advance their weird interests, not
the people’s cause — peace, prosperity, and liberty with dignity. In a sense, pluralism and Maoism have often been contrasted with one another in political discourses, but if history can serve as a model, it cannot be gainsaid that the incumbent PM is a knowledgeable, reciprocal, accountable, credible, and darling leader, who will not stand as an obstacle to the country attaining greater heights toward sustainable peace and prosperity.
While there is no single route to democratization, sort of Rustow’s “fortuitousby-product”, our bitter experiences time and again have revealed that without fresh methods and new actors in the political process, the nation can neither survive nor function. It remains to be seen what is common among our leaders except their spiritless but spirited rhetoric. If the elected representatives do not mend their ways to grab and cling to power, the country will soon be subjected to scandals, denials, and not one but many “people’s wars” which will surely drag Nepal into one of the world’s most dangerous places, whether as a bourgeois edifice or workers’ state.
It may be endlessly
argued that the apparent uncertainty is full of contradictions, that democracy is not ‘the only game in town’, that a key obstacle to democracy is posed by the political leadership driven by greed and oligarchic inclination, yet it is indubitably true that the tension can only be eased and managed through striving to coexist with minimal disagreement. We still have not lost the opportunity to imagine what a great country can emerge peacefully even under unassuming UML leadership with the Congress’s constructive contributions and Maoists’ sincere support. But who should teach the old dogs a new trick ?
Thapa is Professor of Politics, TU