It is not a question of getting frustrated by sudden setbacks suffered by the direction of Nepali politics. Yet, the degree of irresponsibility and lack of vision and direction has become worrisome to those who had aspired for a New Nepal in accord with the spirit of the Jana Andolan II. When non-issues dominate the daily headlines, creating distrust and confusions in the minds of people, credibility of political actors start eroding too.
Recent developments have shown that all the core leaders of the so-called mainstream parties are on the slippery slope. And for developing democracy like ours, the role of political leaders is always crucial. Only their commitment to both the principles and processes would lay the foundation of system espoused by the spirit of the peopleâ€™s struggle. However, recent
developments suggest that democracy is still far off despite the success of the April movement.
First, politicians and others were not tired of praising the 1990 Constitution but the same elites rejected it later, calling it a bundle of contradictions that, while vesting sovereignty on the Nepali people, also recognised the King as one of its four pillars. The actual implementation of the Constitution was not followed in spirit. The 1990 Constitution had neither embraced constitutional monarchy as has been done in many other parts of the world, nor did the politicians defend it steadfastly when it was being violated by all the principal actors â€” both the political leaders and the King.
The 1990 Constitution has now been thrown into the dustbin of history after the promulgation of the Interim Constitution. But the way it has been resurrected again doesnâ€™t seem to justify any reason. It must be taken into account that the restoration of the old constitution would only pave the way for a third mass movement in order to end the vestiges of monarchy and its support base. So, instead of ending the deadlock, the old issues are being dug anew if only to add fuel to the fire.
Second, rashtrabad (nationalism), which is the second issue raised by politicians, smacks of the same old strategy of mobilisation for the wrong cause. In the given context, politicians in general are on the fast track of being discredited due to irresponsible statements and speeches they make from time to time. If one goes by their speeches and interviews, they turn out to be empty, only managing to alienate people further. â€˜Rashtrabad in perilâ€™ is thus taken as a strategic ploy to hide failures, either within the government or outside. Since the three dates fixed for CA election were postponed due to shifting strategic positions taken by some of seven party constituents, political leaders are now trying to find other alibi for further deferring the date of election. The view expressed by the Maoist party chairman Prachanda that the â€œrashtrabadi elements close to the Kingâ€ should also find space in the new alignment of forces has distracted the attention of all from the main agenda of CA election.
Rashtrabad, which is generally understood in Nepal as anti-Indianism, is likely to add more complication if responsible parties and leaders start repeating the same old game. If the royal courtiers are counted as real rashtrabadis, it implies that all others including the Maoists are not rashtrabadis. Since the people make a rashtra (state), those who thrive on the exploitation of the people, as Mohan Bikram Singh has remarked in one of his recent articles, cannot be treated as rashtrabadi. So any compromise to be made with the former sycophants of the King is not acceptable to the fighters of democracy, though in a democracy, even they continue to live as citizens of the country. Nepali nationalism is now being rediscovered against the background of the spirit of Jana Andolan II. The agenda of restructuring of state that aims at broadening the representation of all sections of people while empowering them is expected to reinforce the edifice of the nation.
Third, given the ideological convergence of all forces, it is useless to put stickers of Left and Right. Any party would henceforth be judged only by its performance and adherence to democratic norms and values rather than by the rhetoric it uses to salvage its declining image. Social justice is a must for democratic sustainability. Finally, changing prioritisation of the Maoists is another disturbing trend.
The SPA agreed on holding CA election at any cost within Nov. 2007, but the CPN-Maoist retracted its stand two moths before the schedule. Putting two demands as preconditions â€” declaration of republic by the Interim Parliament and full proportional representation system against the mixed (parallel) election system adopted earlier, the Maoist leadership now lays emphasis on peace process as the first priority. The Nepali Congress objects to such shifting Maoist position and hence the political impasse.
Prof Baral is executive chairman of NCCS