Trust deficit: Nepali politics at crossroads

Irrefutably, the fluidity of Nepali politics is constantly increasing while the common people’s trust in the political leadership is on the decline. While there is growing public discontent, the political leadership seems to have no wherewithal to win back public trust, which was lost due to their failure to keep past promises. The yawning credibility gap between the leaders of the eight political parties and the people at the bottom is certainly growing bigger as the nation steps into a threshold of yet another democratic revolution. Promises solemnly declared by the government leaders have hardly touched the hearts and minds of the general populace. The political scenario appears volatile and doubts still prevail over the democratisation process following Jana Andolan II.

In view of the present political turmoil in the country, it would be appropriate to quote an ancient Chinese adage: “The proper man understands equity, the smaller man profit”. This maxim aptly explains the emerging scenario in Nepali politics. Evidently, every political leader and every political party is looking to gain a political advantage, blatantly ignoring the needs and aspirations of the greater masses. The political leaders now in power could have done a lot for the people by adopting an all-inclusive approach. However, things appear to have gone awry as the recent political developments have indicated. The broader template has not been put into place but instead pushed to the sidelines with self-centred political interest top on the priority list.

Currently, no single political party, however big among the eight political parties currently represented in the government, has widespread support base among the people right across the country. This reality clearly indicates all political parties are, in fact, either sectarian or regional with limited influence and questionable organisation capacity. This has resulted in fractured and fragmented politics, which precludes an integrated approach. This trend is helpful neither in nurturing the democratisation process during this transition phase, nor

in serving the interest of common people. Certainly, such a queasy situation is

indicative of the long-running political tension with the disruptive forces making headway.

Apparently, the leaders of the eight political parties lack the capacity to create an ambience of political cohesiveness which is vital to take the country out of the present political impasse. This situation is regrettable with the political bickering getting worse. The common people are scared of the likely repercussions of such a state of affairs, which might ultimately invite new forces of disruption and disturbance. Given the politically self-motivated agenda of political leadership, prospects of democracy going on the right path are almost unimaginable now. At present, no political leader seems to possess the much-needed ability to bring all pro-people forces into a common fold. Far worse is the fact that the Nepali society at this critical juncture feels an acute need of a charismatic statesman who could lead the country.

Evidently, the political void has left Nepal a wrecked ship in tumultuous high sea. Those at the helm have hardly ever cared about the suffering of the people who are in great distress owing to a decade-long political unrest and frequent natural calamities. Instead, the political leaders are busy jockeying for power and position. Nowhere in the world are the government and the political leaders so inconsiderate as to be blind to the suffering of the poor and the afflicted.

It would be appropriate to remind the political leaders of this blunt (if not hateful) remark of Bertrand Russell: “Politics is the last refuge of scoundrels”. Nepali politicians would share the same pedestal of scoundrels if they do not work for the good of the common people. And if they failed to meet the aspirations of the Nepali people which were expressed through Jana Andolan II, the political leaders who are promising to build a new Nepal would not only be scorned by the present generation but also by generations to come.

Most recently, the increasing build-up of external pressure and people’s aspiration to see Nepali politics moving on right track with the election to the constituent assembly held at the stipulated time should not go unheeded. Political brinkmanship would help no one at all.

Statesmanship on the part of all leading democratic figures is the most needed demand at the moment to carry the democratic politics to its logical conclusion.

Deviation from the desired path will be counterproductive and unlikely to be spared by common Nepalis. It is therefore crucial that the political leaders wake up to the need of the hour and work in unison to build a democratic society.

Can they now do the right thing and stand ready to bear with the judgment of future generations?

Shrestha is ex-foreign ministry official