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When Politics Runs Amok

editThe obsession with government office that our political parties and their leaders demonstrate must be taken as normal and not unique to Nepal. Girija Prasad Koirala’s first majority government was challenged the very year in office precipitating the prime minister’s move to dissolve parliament. That was unique to Nepal. No democracy has seen, perhaps, the elected speaker of parliament hailing from the prime minister’s party leading a section of the prime minister’s party in parliament in partnership with the members of the opposition bench challenging the prime ministers prerogative to dissolve parliament when the combine of the opposition and the government party fraction could provide the majority to overturn the decision. Constitutional monarchy once again was once again, this time for the first time after the restoration of the multi party system, brought into controversy by a politics that runs amok in the perpetual quest for power. The theory is the majority rule in parliament. The majority in Nepal flows like quicksilver. Girija Prasad Koirala was not just the prime minister. He was also leader of the Nepali Congress parliamentary party. It was his responsibility to settle the differences of his parliamentary party. He chose to do so by dissolving the parliament. It was this that challenged democratic norms to burden the constitutional monarchy with a decision that should have been the responsibility of the partisan stakeholders.
Ever since, under the 1990 constitution, the constitutional monarchy monarchy was brought under cross-hairs by these very partisan actors with utter disregard of the sanctity of the constitutional monarchy. Not only the minority government of Manmohan Adhikary but the ever parochial Surya Bahadur Thapa claimed their rights as prime minister to dissolve the house for elections. While the Supreme Court rightly pointed out that Adhikary’s election quest was doomed by inadequate numbers in the house since his was a minority government from which the other parties withdrew support, Thapa’s claim was remain inconsequential since his section was only a section of the RPP who together with the Congress had inadequate numbers even with the Congress supporting him in the House. None would seek democratic remedies from within their own parties and would pay least attention to the damage their flagrant ignorance of democratic norms would cause the constitutional monarchy. It is not the least surprising that the monarchy was to ultimately bear the brunt of this impudence when Sher Bahadur Deuba as prime minister should constitutionally call the king to dissolve parliament but in utter disregard to democratic norms demand from the king his reinstatement to power even after he failed to conduct the elections for which he dissolved parliament. It is another matter that Deuba ( by then dubbed leader of the Royal Congress by his nemesis Girija) had been provoked to form his splinter Democratic Congress party after Girija had annulled him and his cohorts from his parliamentary party, something that could only have received legitimacy had parliament been in session; parliament, of course had been dissolved when Deuba was sitting prime minister. Coming to the present in Republican Nepal, we have a UML president and a UML prime minister with a Maoist Speaker of the legislature. Theoretically the chairs of the presidency and the speaker are to be non-partisan. Shenanigans begun before Prime Minister Shushil Koirala’s death for key births continue over the formation of government. Yes, the search for power among politicians is perpetual. But the rules of the game are never the same in a country where the players make their own rules to suite their own. We are mere conjecturing onlookers aware that these rules need not conform to precedents, norms or values of a modern democracy.

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