It’s already been two weeks since Madhav Kumar Nepal resigned from his post as the Prime Minister. His resignation would break the political deadlock and enhance the possibility of consensus politics. At least, that is what the Maoists said before he formally put his resignation on the paper and called it quits. Contrary to their assertion, his resignation has further thickened the plot.
Pushpa Kamal Dahal and his comrades had really hoped that once Nepal quit, it would be really easy to use gullible opportunists within the CPN-UML to pressurize their leadership to support the Maoists, which obviously has not happened so far. The Maoists’ calculation has once again gone wrong. But at least they had a formula that they thought would work in their favor. They are down but not out. They will pull up their sleeves and gear up for another showdown. So no matter who replaces Nepal, he or she will not have easier days ahead. It is, therefore, better to realize the fact that radical communism is part and parcel of Nepali politics. Undermining or wishing it away is naïve. Instead of engaging in endless checkmate game, it is better to keep them engaged and find ways to mainstream them.
While the Maoists are committed to achieving their end goal, come what may, the ruling coalition is glued together by two things: The lust for power and the threat of the Maoist intimidation and take over. The fragility of the coalition is evident from their differences over who should head the next government. If the coalition was really sincere about institutionalizing democracy and safeguarding the people’s rights, the issue of premiership would have been insignificant. Nepal’s resignation has thrown coalition members out of orbit.
The lust for power among the major political party leaders of the current coalition is the major reason why the President’s call to form a national consensus government failed to produce any results. Not only the first deadline but the second one was also missed. If the ongoing wrangling continues, we will have no idea of Nepal’s successor till the last minute. It is quite possible that the election of the new PM through voting in the Constituent Assembly (CA) on July 21 may still not produce a conclusive winner if the Nepali Congress and CPN-UML were to field their own candidates.
Is anything wrong with the ongoing political drama? For external forces that have political and security interests in Nepal, politicians can wrangle as much as they want to. As long as the chaos is controllable, political pendulum can swing the way it likes. For politicians, it is the pay and perks that need to keep flowing. In the current situation whereby the prospect of facing electorate is extremely remote, the need to deliver is simply not in anybody’s priority. As far as the power brokers in Kathmandu are concerned, till the chances of remaining in circulation are alive, they will not have to worry about benefiting from the liquidation of the state. They have mastered the art of rebranding, can become anything from civil society members to partisan hack, as the political landscape shifts.
Given the level of insensitivity exhibited by the external players, politicians, and power brokers toward the degrading political and economic condition, it is high time that people hit the streets like they did against the Maoists’ blockade couple of months ago. The sooner the better. Nepali people need to be concerned about the degenerating political culture which is having a disastrous impact on the way we live and enjoy political and personal freedom. Not only that, it is also jeopardizing the prospects of socioeconomic development. Recently, the Maoist Central Committee member and commander of the PLA Fifth Division in Rolpa, Kali Bahadur Kham, was found to have conducted suspicious transaction with Chinese traders, who eventually ended up getting robbed by the revolutionary. This shows the level of criminalization in politics. It is not only the politicians that are resorting to criminal activities to enrich themselves. Tej Bahadur Karki, a Hetauda Appellate Court Judge, was recently suspended for his involvement in an inappropriate release of abduction kingpins: Sanjaya Shrestha, Rohit Paliwal Agrawal and Bhimsen Pundit. The ongoing rapid decay of institutions is having a serious impact on our chances to emerge as a modern and prosperous society. The new measure, called the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), developed and applied by the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative with the support of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) shows that 78 percent of Nepalis live on two dollars a day. These poor are barely surviving, not thriving. We are even behind impoverished nations like Haiti, Djibouti, and Swaziland.
The reason why we are regressing despite never-ending progressive hoopla is that we let politics triumph over rules. We, as a nation, are more interested in political outcomes, rather than the process. We, as a matter of fact, do not care about the process at all. For example, we want a new government but are least concerned about whether the process of having such a government in place is transparent and ethical. By not doing so, we undermine the fact that what we are doing today will build on what we want to do tomorrow. If we want a transparent and functional political system, we should be prioritizing the process, rather than getting obsessed with outcomes. It might be a long and arduous process, but it at least ensures definite outcomes that cannot be easily rigged by corrupt politicians, that are more interested in enriching themselves rather than serving their constituents.
We should stop letting politics triumph over the rules. President Ram Baran Yadav, should make the CA members play by the rules and stop extending deadlines. Yadav, a decent man, must take part of the blame for political malaise. By appearing too lenient, he is making the swamp even murkier. It is time we drained the swamp to prevent it from becoming murkier and smellier. Politicians in the CA see take him for granted and treat as a fellow traveler rather an authority, where the buck should actually stop. The buck has to stop somewhere. Someone has to be there to say enough is enough or else the political drama will go on forever.