No to royals and radicals alike
By Atul K Thakur:
claim to be the real representatives of the people on account of their past failed performances. India, on its part, has lost the plot through a series of diplomatic gaffes
Democracy in Nepal stood up on its own two feet for the first time in 1990. However, the gains of inclusive politics gathered since then have been frittered away in recent times, largely by the media. Journalists and political analysts in Nepal have wrongly highlighted the 2006 peace accord between the Maoists and the Government of Nepal as the lynchpin of that country’s democratic transition process, but this has been at the cost of undermining the historic triumph of the 1990s struggle.
Even under the monarchy between 1990 and 2001, Nepal’s democratic progress was much more significant. After that, the period between the royal massacre of 2001 and the signing of the peace accord in 2006 was blurred with undefined actions of both the monarchy and political parties. Since 2006, however, the situation has taken a turn for the worse with leaders getting embroiled in petty controversies and dampening Nepal’s democratic spirit.
The UCPN (Maoist), being the largest political party of Nepal, betrayed not only its political agenda but also failed to follow basic rules and norms both in the public and the private spheres. For instance, the ideological claim of the Maoist leaders notwithstanding, when in a secular Nepal many of the top Maoist leaders openly practice Catholicism and other religions, why do they also allow for the vandalism of the Hindu religion?
There has also been talk of a revival of the monarchy. But even in this uncertain time, it sounds impractical that the former monarch, King Gyanendra, may be resurrected and given a larger political role in Nepal. This may be a distant dream but it still reflects the apprehensions and insecurities of the people that have emerged due to the reckless actions of mainstream political leaders. Indeed, such are the excesses of partisan politics in Nepal that it is hard to follow each and every development in that country’s political theatre.
For example, it was quite ironical when ultra-radical Maoists, Mr Mohan Baidya and Mr PS Gajurel, formed the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) based largely on an anti-India ideology. It is another thing that the party has now much less momentum than anticipated earlier. But more importantly, it was the growing prominence of their same-ranked colleagues Pushpa Kamal Dahal, popularly known as Prachanda, and Baburam Bhattarai, who is now Prime Minister — leading to talks of the Delhi influence.
As of now, India has lost its traditional prominence in Nepal due to fluctuations in its political and diplomatic engagement. Former National Security Adviser MK Narayanan earned nothing during the troubled phase except the wrath of the Nepalese people and former envoy Mr Rakesh Sood has been extra bureaucratic in his approach as well. New Delhi must realise that it has to send the right people for the right mission.
India can reclaim its position in Nepal only if it adequately supports this important neighbour rather than imagine itself as a regional hegemon. India remains an enigma for the people of Nepal; some love India, others hate India but none can keep away from India. Still, it must be said that the average Nepalese bears much goodwill for India but unfortunately this too is on the wane now due to complex domestic political scenario.
On the many questions surrounding ethnicity-based federalism, a new Constituent Assembly and even a possible Madhesi political upheaval, Nepal’s politicians will be fighting for a long time. But they will not take a look at the collapsing infrastructure of the country.
For the situation to really change for the better, the Nepali elite must hand over power to the commoners. Also, no political party can claim to be the real representative of the people on account of its past failed performances.
Nepal needs to take a final call on democratic rule that will be distinct from the tags of ‘royal’ or ‘radical’. This alone will offer a long-lasting democracy for a new republic of Nepal.