The irony of Nepali politics is that the party which won the largest share of votes in the last election does not believe in multi-party democracy and the party – Nepali Congress (NC) – which calls itself the torchbearer of democracy and is the second-largest party in the parliament is the least democratic in its practices. By nominating Sujata Koirala, who is not even a member of the current parliament, to lead Nepali Congress (NC) in the new government, Girija Prasad Koirala (GPK) has put even the worst dictator to shame. As long as GPK is alive, it appears that the scourge of nepotism will never leave NC. Now, we all know what “democracy in peril” talk of GPK during the Maoist rule was all about, don’t we?
If democracy is all about the likes of Sujata becoming a minister, then people of Nepal will soon back the Maoists for whatever they stand for. Whatever the Maoists will have to offer will still be far better than what Sujata will offer.If we look around, it becomes pretty clear that dirty politics of yesteryears is here to stay with us as long as the likes of GPK are around. This is probably going to be the last chance to weaken the Maoists, who are hell bent on annihilating the multi-party democratic set-up, but looking at GPK’s actions it becomes clear that he is least interested in securing the liberty and freedom of people and more interested in establishing his controversial daughter with zero political acumen in politics. If democracy is all about the likes of Sujata becoming a minister, then people of Nepal will soon back the Maoists for whatever they stand for. For the poorest of poor, whatever the Maoists will have to offer will still be far better than what the likes of Sujata will offer anyways.
The new prime minister, who actually lost the CA elections to a junior Maoist politician, is here to solve the problem with Sujata as a minister and Kul Bahadur Khadka as the security advisor. Trying to consolidate democracy with the assistance of people like these is like banking on Osama Bin Laden to destroy Al Qaeda. Sujata should have faced disciplinary action and Khadka should have been court-martialed for his treacherous act. Rewarding them is the biggest sham in the country today in the name of democracy. With Sujata as a cabinet minister and Khadka as a possible national security adviser, do the Maoists need a mole in the government?
Madhav Kumar Nepal (MKN), with liabilities like Sujata on board and his flip-flopping past, does not come across as someone who can actually solve the problems that confronts the nation. Hiring the right people to do the job is the most important indicator of whether or not the job at hand will be successfully done. Even though it is NC’s prerogative to choose the members it likes to have in the cabinet, it was MKN’s responsibility to ensure that his cabinet members are competent, non-controversial and relatively clean so that people have faith on their ability to deliver in this troubling time. By caving in to GPK’s irresponsible and morally-repugnant act of nominating his daughter as a leader of the NC in the new cabinet, MKN has actually shown that he is ready to compromise his principles and stoop as low as possible to remain in power. If you cannot stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.
MKN may try to please everyone from GPK to Pushpa Kamal Dahal (PKD) by nominating Sujata and Khadka to increase the longevity of his tenure but by walking in the middle-of-the road, he has tremendously increased the possibility of getting run over by traffic coming in from the opposite direction.
At this point in time, Nepali people are not asking for much. They would be happy if he could just provide them an opportunity to live in peace. Asking for employment, social safety nets and access to healthcare services, which is by and large the government’s responsibility, would be like expecting a mule to give birth to a calf for us to worship during the upcoming “Laxmi Pooja”. So, no point raising our expectations. If politicians’ words were to be taken seriously, we would already have been like Switzerland long time ago.
On contrary, the politics of social mobilization, which the political parties carried out recklessly has surpassed institutional capacity and has dangerously destabilized the country. Maintaining a certain degree of law and order alone will be a great challenge for MKN as violators of law and order have enough cards at their disposal to play, when busted. Ethnicity, caste and class are the few cards that will remain potent to justify innocence till the government ensures inclusion of the people that have been bypassed by the political elites for decades. Providing cabinet berths to a few people from ethnic and indigenous groups is not the answer. Make everyone equal.
In order to empower people, one does not have to be a rebel. Abraham Lincoln, who abolished slavery, was not a rebel. Was he? Actually people who have been a rebel have fared far worse when it comes to empowering people. Our very own PKD did everything to extract political support from ethnic minorities but when it came to empowering them, he followed in GPK’s footsteps and nominated a couple of people from selected ethnic groups to show that he was sympathetic towards minorities’ rights.
MKN has a chance of a lifetime. His pragmatic actions, which may not be popular at times – and does not have to be – can whitewash his “flip-flopping” past. But, at the same time, if he is unable to come out of the spell of the likes of GPK and PKD and deliver, he will prove that he is just another goofball always ready to compromise on principles and stoop low to remain in the corridors of power.