BY DR. RAJENDRA B. SHRESTHA
With the promulgation of the new constitution that was ratified by more than 90 percent representatives in the then constitution assembly (converted as special parliament), implementation of constitutional provisions for governance are underway. Election of local government has just completed with participation of all the political parties duly registered at the election commission. Very high turnout suggests people are eagerly waiting for local development from their representatives which have been absent for almost two decades.
Elections for the provincial and national level representation have been already declared and dates have been fixed for November-December 2017. The present government lead by Nepali Congress in coalition with the Maoist Center has declared its commitment to hold both the elections as scheduled.
People at large are aspiring for an end to political transition which has taken so long and has been very costly for Nepal. Political instabilityhas impeded development for too long when both our neighbors are among the fastest growing and among the largest economies in the world. Nepal stands to benefit if political stability is restored.
The political instability is the outcome of fragile coalition due to no one party winning a majority resulting in frequent changes in government. This has pushed development in the back burner. Leading political parties in the government have made all the excuses for their lack of performance.
Alliance of Communist Parties: On a positive note, this is a welcome step towards enabling formation of a majority government of likeminded political ideologies. This will put an end to small/fringe parties without any credible electoral baseand mandate to bargain for power sharing in fulfillingtheir vested personal/group interests in the name of inclusion. Such practice has been going on in the country for a while.
Nepal cannot afford too many unnecessary elections at the cost of development of people at large when the rest of the LDCs in our neighborhood are moving ahead in progress.But if the alliance of the left parties is just for seeking the majority governmentthat may exercise authoritarian rule which isundemocratic, unaccountable and incompetent as is being alleged by the opposition (democratic alliance under Nepali Congress), such argument does not seem to hold water with the electorate. It is seen only as the election ploy of the opposition.
Democratic Alliance: I believe, Democratic alliance led by Nepali Congress (if at all formally formed) would be welcome and is a timely response expected by the Nepali electorate. Nepali Congress should not feel threatened/alarmed by the left alliance (as is publicized in certain media and echoed in the speeches of some leaders). It should take it as a positive political challenge to re-organize, consolidate and strengthen the coalition of likeminded political parties that will win the hearts of electorate rather than indulge in political sloganeering with negative stereotypes such as people will lose all democratic freedom, self-rule, prosperity etc. under the rule of left government. This is not possible in the present day world situation and globalization.
Now is the time for leading political parties to conduct themselves in a more professional manner and garner support of the people based on their political ideologies, maturity and the programs they can actually deliver ratherthan make the false promises of the pas which was never delivered. People have started asking to the candidates why should they vote for them.
Nepali electorate has come a long way to understand the realities of the present day world and to believe in such political rhetoric. Progress made by our neighbors provide good examples and to learn from.
National Interest and democracy can and must go hand in hand. It is very possibleif right policies, practices, and institutions of governance are in place and people are integral part. As is often said, democracy may mean different things to different countries at different times as long as it is guided by people’s aspirations.
I believe, Nepali electorates are far more aware, knowledgeable and capable of making the right decision (than the political leaders may think and take them for granted) as indicated by local election results. People elected their representatives, not so much on party lines, but on individual trustworthiness, competence, good track record and affiliation with the community.
Loud and clear messages are coming from the electorate across the nation that they are not going to buy false promises enshrined in the manifestoes of the political parties which has never been kept in the past nor will be this time.Candidates are better off and will succeed if they promise and fulfill only the programs that are doable and are close to the hearts of the people.
However the national and provincial elections (which people are experiencing for the first time) are more overarching goals. National issues of importance such as foreign policy, security, sovereignty, independence are different than day to day socio-economic interests of the people. Hence, political parties must be warned not counting their electoral column based on local election results only.
Time has come to build a development model of Nepal’s choice befitting its characteristics in which there are preferably two or three political parties with clear agendas for development.
As a development professional with extensive national and international experiences, I am convinced Nepal enjoys comparative and competitive advantages in developing integrated water resources, agro-forestry, tourism and service sector (health and education) towards sustainable development.
Political parties have to come to terms for a common minimum program for prosperity of all. With the right policy, institutions and people, it is possible to achieve these goals.Nepal cannot afford to waste its precious resources (financial and otherwise) for politicking anymore. Once development takes place, politics will take its right course. Political parties shouldfacilitate sustainable developmentprocess without further delay.
I urge all the electorate to participate and make the right decision once again in the coming all important elections and register their voices.
(The writer is the President of the Int. Center for Sustainable Development and Diplomacy (ICSDD))