By P. Kharel
Pushpa Kamal Dahal, in his abrupt second innings as prime minister, was doomed to fail by the course he took to secure power. Eventually, he proved to be a pathetic cropper. This was amply indicated by the manner in which his own Maoist Centre members, at their party meeting a few weeks after he stepped down in accordance with the contract he had made with Nepali Congress leader Sher Bahadur Deuba, unsparingly criticised the leadership.
Maoists attributed their party’s lamentable performance in the first two phases of local elections to organisational disarray and utter lack of commitment to connecting with even voters who previously supported them. The top leaders were charged with ignoring the support base and leading a city life of ease and comfort instead of nursing the constituencies assigned them.
Now Dahal’s contractual successor Deuba heads for a similar direction. Factionalism with NC and the ruling clique’s propensity for overstretching the law for narrow ends disgust members who desire better governance and cleaner cabinet for the good of the general public and, at the same time, for the party’s credibility as an organisation that delivers. As things stand currently, the Deuba-Dahal dalliance is a dubious deal that cannot deliver.
CHAMELEON-LIKE: Deuba entered the prime minister’s official residence at Baluwatar at the astrologically approved auspicious time of 5:22 am on June 19, two weeks after he was sworn into office on June 6. For that he had to summon extra efforts to wake up early and prepare himself for the requirements to observe and enter the Baluwatar gates as prescribed by his advisors with expertise on the play of stars.
Supposedly socialist Deuba and Maoist Dahal share some common features between them. Too many people from across the political spectrum dismiss Dahal as someone who says something in the morning, revises it in the afternoon and amending the same in the evening before turning up with drastically different the next day, changing tunes and tricks like a chameleon.
The existing vacuum in responsible governance serves as a convenient tool for the ruling parties to circumvent the practice of fair play, merit and equality when it comes to jobs, contracts and the like. This has distanced many sections from any genuine sense of ownership of the prevailing dispensation. Those claiming “transition” to put their own yes-people at public posts and institutionalise a culture of nepotism and favouritism through mid-night decisions leave people in general high and dry.
Authoritarian interventions find their way everywhere. Party leaders, as a result, rue that their public credibility gets crumbling under the weight of the contradictions in their statements and actions. Political ineptitude has also eaten into the vitals of institutional mechanism. The “loktantra” slogan should not obscure or put under the carpet the myriad misdeeds and misuse of power by the prevailing regime.
Riven by factionalism, the two main constituents represented in the Deuba cabinet are shackled by inherent weaknesses. That is why it took a month for the prime minister to give a reasonable shape to his council of ministers. In the political parties, there is hardly any room for cultivating a wellspring of independent thoughts as the rank and file is expected to blindly commit itself to whatever decisions the party leaderships order.
Whatever little is achieved is glorified for a vulgar length of time to vainly shield themselves from charges of having reneged on the promises they made to the people. Technically representative but not responsible government means fascist mechanism in blatant form and style.
LOOPHOLES GALORE: In loktantraik Nepal, the ideals and sophisticated principles of democratic governance are thrown to the winds without the slightest qualms. This does not happen in democracies that these leaders and their coterie cite at other times as models. The slightest of opening for power grab shuts off their minds and mouths on this, as they engage in horse-trading, benefit-sharing and designing dubious deals. Sieve-like loopholes are all there all to see to their dismay.
Lust for power and enormous ego let loose take a heavy toll on the quality of governance. Hence the frequent fall of government after predictably dismal performance. A terminally instable political system whose declared legal pillars get amended too often at the fancy of three or four leaders simply cannot establish a mechanism aimed at delivering the never ending promise of power and prosperity to the people.
Provision for voting right alone is, therefore, not enough for a system to work in Nepal. Of note is that two-thirds of eligible voters cast their ballots in one-party state, partyless or multiparty systems and army-backed polities. During the panchayat elections held on non-party basis, two-thirds of eligible voters would turn up. Nor will it now in the 21st entury.
A new approach to the basic contents of the existing Constitution is in order, failing which is guaranteed to accelerate the current chaos and confusion, put at great risk the very characteristics of an independent, sovereign nation.
Dubious Deal Doesn’t Deliver
By P. Kharel