It follows then that individuals or parties face a disastrous moment, leading to the departure from the political scene as punishment for the merciless attack on the constitution. It would mean that the coalition parties in the government and the opposition party, the UML have a grim future ahead of them

Nepal has been like a patient suffering from multiple organ failures. The three arms of parliamentary democracy, the Judiciary, the Executive and the Legislative, all three are in dire straits at the moment. At this critical juncture, the country is heading for the federal as well as the provincial elections. Whether or not the new government formed after the election will set the nation ashore from the troubled waters or further push it down to rock bottom has been a subject of worry for the whole of the nation.

The slide had started from quite a few years back, but it assumed grave proportion during the last term of the parliament. The assault on the Judiciary began from the time the government of the Unified Marxist-Leninist (UML) dissolved the parliament for the second time when the Supreme Court had already declared the first dissolution unconstitutional.

The Executive, headed by the five-party coalition, flouted the constitutional norms by increasing the number of ministries in the provincial government when the constitution had fixed their number. The Legislative suffered a fatal blow when the President decided to use the pocket veto with regards to the citizenship bill when such a provision has not been made in the constitution of Nepal.

Nepal, however, is not a solitary victim in this regard.

In India, in the seventies, then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi clamped the Emergency which was a three-in-one assault on all the three organs. The opposition leaders were put behind bars, and the press faced heavy censorship. In the following 1978 election, Indira Gandhi's government was badly defeated, with a new outfit known as the Janata Party taking over the reins of the government.

In the country itself, then King Gyanendra dismissed the parliament, putting the towering political leaders in house arrest. It was followed by the reckless sacking and appointment of prime ministers. As if this was not enough, he restored absolute monarchy, imposing an emergency, thereby suspending the freedom of speech and thought.

It, however, fueled the Republican Movement, which was triggered by the Maoist rebels, forcing the king to exit from power.

The restoration of the par-liament in its aftermath held an election of the Constituent Assembly, which declared the country a Republic with the exit of the king.

It follows then that individuals or parties, as the case may be, face a disastrous moment, leading to their departure from the political scene as punishment for the merciless attack on the constitution. It would mean that the coalition parties in the government and the opposition party, the UML, which have a varying role in the deterioration of the three arms of Nepal's democracy, have a grim future ahead of them.

But this would be possible only after the emergence of a new political outfit like the Janata Party, as chances of the rebels and peripheral parties coming to power are virtually nil in the country.

A few new claimants for the rescue effort of the country have nevertheless come to the fore. The independents have surfaced on the political scene, riding on the crest of the victory wave of independent mayors, such as Balendra Shaha, Harka Sampang Rai and Gopal Hamal. The inde-pendents are also of varying kinds – some forming a party of independents and others as individual independents.

There has also been migration of heavy weight politicians, for example, that of the entry of Rabindra Mishra in the Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP).

History has shown that individual independents cannot make a national impact.

The question is whether the party of the independents will bring any new silver lining in the dark political sky of Nepal.

Never before has a party of independents been formed in Nepal. But such an effort was made in India with the formation of the Swatanatra Party by Chakravarti Rajagopalchari.

It achieved partial success with the victory of 45 Lok Sabha seats in the 1967 election. They also obtained a status of opposition parties in Rajasthan and Gujrat. But after the demise of Rajagopalchari, the movement also evaporated.

The independents may win a few seats, but they are less likely to make an impact. The joining of a political overweight also does not appear to make a significant difference as evidenced by the defection of erstwhile Maoists known as the 10 brothers to the UML.

Had it been the case, UML would not have slumped to second position in the local election.

It leads to the harsh truth that the country will be again in the hands of the reigning as well as the opposition parties even though they have not performed as expected. The coalition government has been parroting that it has brought the constitution on track. It has opined that it needs to be given continuity in the forthcoming election in view of the continuing attack on the constitution recently by the President on the Citizenship Bill.

The opposition on the other hand has been harping that the government has been doing nothing for the country and is thus unworthy of a new term.

The coalition government has been asserting that it will secure a victory in view of its thumping win in the recently concluded local election. The UML has also been claiming for a landslide victory, but its similar outbursts in the local election followed by substantial defeat have lost all credibility. The entry of Janata Samajbadi Party (JSP) in the UML camp has certainly improved its position but not as much in view of the Loktantrik Samajbadi Party (LSP) tying the political wedding knot with the ruling coalition.

The coalition appears to be headed for a victory by however slight a margin on the basis of the recent local election results. It is likely that the constitution will receive fair treatment in view of its commitment to protect it, which has otherwise been battered into pieces by the UML and its partisan President.

A version of this article appears in the print on October 11, 2022 of The Himalayan Times.