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What A Political Game

Issue 18, May 03, 2009

Siddhi B. Ranjitkar

The three major political parties such as United Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-Maoist), Nepali Congress (NC) and Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist and Leninist (CPN-UML) have been playing a political game that has been too much for the Nepalis. None of them except for the UCPN-Maoist has presented any vision of the new Nepal indicating they want power nothing else. The question is whether such political parties will survive in the 21st century.

The NC has been sitting in the opposition bench since the parliament set up a new government in August 2008 after the election for the Constituent Assembly (CA)-cum-parliament on April 10, 2008. Following the values and ideals of the parliamentary democracy, the opposition’s main task is to expose the wrong doings of the party in power in view of winning the people’s votes in the next elections. However, sitting in the opposition bench at the parliament, the NC leaders have been doing nothing of that sorts rather have been going against the people’s aspirations for all political parties working together for putting the country on the fast track for development. It is sad that the NC leaders have not learned the lessons from the results of the bye-elections held recently and the elections held in April 2008.

Immediately after the success of the People’s Movement in 2006, the NC probably was in the best position for winning the majority seats in the parliament, as it has led the movement and most probably Nepalis have forgotten the misdeeds of the NC rulers during the past fifteen years. However, the NC leaders did not care of going to the people thinking that the power has come to their hands and they would continue to enjoy it no matter what they do during their reign.

During the two-year rule of Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala after the people’s movement in April 2006, the NC leaders have never stopped fighting against each other. Instead of saving the energy for the elections they wasted their valuable time and energy on fighting against and defeating the rivals. Instead of using his influence and energy on bringing the divided factions of the NC as much closer as possible Prime Minister Koirala also engaged in saving the dead monarchy causing tremendous damage to his party.

Some political analysts believe that the NC leaders have delayed in going to the polls, as the NC has been divided party at that time and the leaders of the divided NC wanted to unify it again before holding the elections for the CA-cum-parliament. They put together the two factions of the same party for the sake of the elections; however, they have failed in ending the deep-seated hostility among the leaders. Their hostility has reached the peak at the time of the elections when they spent a lot of money on defeating the rival leaders.

Nepalese voters punished the NC leaders in the elections for the CA-cum-parliament in April 2008, and moved the leading NC party to the second position. None of the NC leaders advocating for saving the monarchy won the elections. So, almost all the candidates belonging to the Koirala brothers and sisters suffered from the setback in the elections. Former Prime Minister Koirala suffered from the humiliating defeat in securing the candidate for the position of the first president of Democratic Republic of Nepal. The irony is that the same leaders punished by the voters in the elections have been having the same old power and voice in the party. Leaders rejected by voters have retained their power in the NC party.

Former Prime Minister Koirala had said that the results of the bye-elections held at six constituencies in April 2009 would show the tendency of the political situation hinting the NC would do better. However, the results did not favor the NC rather the NC lost one seat previously won by the NC leader to the Maoist. It clearly indicates that the NC leaders have no idea of what is happening at the grassroots level in other words they have no close contact with the grassroots level people. Again the voters have punished the NC leaders but they refused to realize it.

After losing the power to the coalition government led by the Maoists, the NC leaders have attempted on going to the people in the name of creating awareness of the misdeeds of the coalition government but they could not even create political ripples after a number of public rallies held in different towns. Then, they played the game of blocking the parliamentary sessions in the name of getting back the property seized by the Maoists during the conflict with the state.

Currently, the NC members of the parliament have been blocking the parliamentary sessions demanding the retraction of taking actions against the Chief of Army Staff (CoAS). The coalition government led by the Maoist has sought the explanations from the CoAS and has taken the stand on firing the CoAS for disobeying the government’s order means challenging the suzerainty of the people, as the CoAS has disobeyed the democratically elected government. Forcibly stopping the parliamentary sessions, the NC members of the parliament have been going on against the values and ideals of democracy. The NC leaders have taken the issue of the CoAS as the showdown with the UCPN-Maoist.

Ultimately, the NC leaders have taken on playing the political game using the army and the presidential position. Some political analysts charged the NC leaders of not having success in any other attempts on derailing the coalition government have turned to the army and the president to act against the coalition government. They attempted on involving the ceremonial position of the president in the controversial issue of taking actions against the CoAS. Obviously, the president has issued a letter to the Prime Minister asking for not taking actions against the CoAS following the advice of the NC leaders. So, the NC leaders claiming for being the democrats have engaged in the most undemocratic activities and bullying the government blocking the parliamentary sessions.

If the NC leaders were really working for democracy then they would have been better off working together with all political parties and taking the country on the fast track for development and compete with other political parties in doing better work for development rather than engaging in the dirty political games of attempting on taking back the power without considering the people’s needs and institutionalizing democracy and republic. So, some political analysts conclude that the NC is not a pro-people party; the party has been always attempting to safeguard the interest of the core group of its members.

Some CPN-UML leaders have been attempting to work as a referee between the NC and the UCPN-Maoist. However, they have many other members taking either the side of the NC or of the UCPN-Maoist. They have been divided among themselves on several issues the coalition government has had.

Some CPN-UML leaders such as Madhav Kumar Nepal and KP Oli have been deadly against cooperating with the UCPN-UML on state affairs. However, some other leaders such as Jhalanath Khanal and Bamdev Gautam have neutralized their voices cooperating with the UCPN-UML. They have a personal grudge against the UCPN-Maoist rather than ideological. The Maoist candidates have defeated most of them in the elections for the CA-cum-parliament in April 2008, and thereafter, the Maoists have rejected the proposal for making Madhav Kumar Nepal the first president of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal.

The NC leaders had put great faith in the CPN-UML leaders that they would pull out of the coalition government and join in the camp of the NC leaders to form a new coalition government. However, the CPN-UML leaders have not snapped the bond with the coalition government and have not attempted to tear down the coalition government most probably in view of the possible disastrous results of such actions. Some CPN-UML leaders continuing the support for the coalition government have shown their political maturity.

As in the NC, majority of leaders rejected by the voters in the elections held in April 2008, have continued to have major voices in the CPN-UML. Except for Madhav Kumar Nepal, none of the CPN-UML leaders punished by the voters have left their position rather intensified their voices making more noises than used to be. In addition, they have played fast and loose with the current coalition government.

The CPN-UML leaders would also have been better off and could have offset their poor showings in the previous elections working for the people and having the correct vision of a New Nepal and working for putting Nepal on the fast track for development. However, they have failed as the NC leaders in doing so.

The UCPN-Maoist leaders have the power in their hands but not the entire power, as they have been sharing the power with other coalition partners. They have been repeatedly putting forward the vision of New Nepal and have been working on to put Nepal on the fast track for development according to the Maoist leaders. However, they have not been able to do so, as the coalition partners have not been cooperating with them fearing that the Maoists would gain popular support if their development agenda become a success story.

It seems that the UCPN-Maoist have three categories of the leaders. The first category of leaders want to compromise with other political parties on as many issues as possible for staying on in power and continue to do the good job of development of the country. The second category of leaders want compromise with other leaders on certain issues only and lead the government and the country independently. The third category of leaders are not for compromising with any other political leaders on any issues rather going independently and if necessary fighting against them in hard and soft ways. Currently, the first category leaders have been leading the second and third category leaders but how long they would be able to do so remains to be seen.

The UCPN-Maoist have number of times publicly stated that they would stay on in power for at least ten years if not more. Prime Minister Prachanda has even foreseen the possibility of staying on in power forever.

Both the NC and CPN-UML leaders have phobia of the UCPN-Maoist leaders doing good jobs while in power and then staying on in power democratically according to some of the Maoist leaders. So, some of the NC and CPN-UML leaders have been attempting on playing the same political games the former Panchas had played during the period of the hung parliament in mid 1990s. Because of the lowest level of their political ethics they could do anything that one cannot even imagine of. However, some other newly emerged political parties would not give helping hands to them. That might be the reason why the NC and CPN-UML leaders have not been able to topple the coalition government.

We are living in the 21st century; Nepalis have moved far ahead in political consciousness; so, political leaders would not be able to deceive them as in the past. None of the political parties that did not work for the people but for their own interest groups or in the interest of the core group of their party would be able to survive in the future. So, they would be political dinosaurs no matter what political games they would play for gaining power setting aside the interest of the people in general.

April 30, 2009

Note: Panchas had ruled Nepal in the name of no-party system called ‘Panchayat’ for 30 years from 1960 to 1990. Political activists of the ‘Panchayat’ were dubbed as Panchas. They have earned notorious moral values.

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