BY P. KHAREL
With the communist combine of Khadga Prasad Oli’s UML and Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s Maoist Centre bound for the helm of the state affairs, a quick flashback should be in order for what led to the present which in turn might face in the ensuing times.
Governing is never an easy task; more so in Nepal. The late Ganesh Man Singh knew its challenge immediately after the 1990 restoration of multiparty political system. The no-nonsense leader of Nepali Congress warned: “Now people will ask for jobs, houses, schools and colleges, health services and such other facilities. The government should work fast”
Indeed, for nearly 30 years the Panchayat promised to continuously improve the quality of life for an average Nepali even in the face of political oposition and non-cooperation of multiparty proponents and their sympathisers. During the three decades, supporters of multiparty polity spent much time degrading the “snail-like pace” of progress, which they attributed to the “inherent” nature of the Panchayat that banned the functioning of political parties.
Having been assured of dramatic changes since so long once parties were allowed to operate, the people naturally expected dramatic changes for the better and democratic governance since 1990. Once in power, though, the very politicians who had vowed to bring about sea changes in the living standards of all Nepalis changed tune. The gist of their new argument was: “Changes can’t be brought about overnight. Give us 20 years, and we will make Nepal like Singapore or Switzerland.”
UNFULFILLED PROMISES: When you raise hopes sky high, popular expectations naturally scale equally breathtaking height. Scarce resources and limited technical know-how pose challenging constraints all around. By the end of the 1990s, all major parties had opportunities in power but without any penchant for the delivery of development they had pledged to realise for so long. Instead, the Maoists launched a war that in the course of 10 years claimed 17,000 lives and created severe setbacks to the nation’s development pace.
With the political changes in 2006 and Maoists getting aboard mainstream politics, fresh hopes were raised about Nepal being politically stable and economically prosperous. But things returned to square one. The subsequent and consequent culture of impunity, corruption and rank bad governance during what is styled as “loktantrik” decade rendered Nepalis completely at the mercy of incompetent leaders who have been shamlessly short on integrity.
Elections provide an object lesson. They bundled out a group today, only to embrace it back tomorrow. The acid test, which elections are, calls for not losing any energy for action and intelligence for fresh initiatives.
OPPORTUNITY: Nepalis in general have led a life of resignation in the face of misery, threats and disorder. The 1990s have been a life of insecurity and obscurity for the vast majority of Nepalis. Amid this heart-wrenching mess, a privileged minuscule minority leads a life of prosperity and luxury, without any legitimately known sources to justify it.
Led by K.P. Oli and Pushpa Kamal Dahal respectively, CPN (UML) and Maoist Centre scored decisively in the recent elections because of the utter failure on the part of rival parties to get their acts together and think sense. The alliance formed between the two largest communist parties was a pulloff that stunned the Nepali Congress and its president Sher Bahadur Deuba who was donning the mantle of premiership for the fourth lacklustre time.
RPP learnt the lesson of how not to lose sight of its ideals and blur previous pledges so that its identity remained intact. Falling for the immediate prospects of small gains cost the party of former panchas dearly.
It is only cronyism and opportunists who suggest nothing is impossible in politics. Loktantrik constituents need to keep their own house democratised and transparent to their workers. The Leftist government can swim or sink, depending upon its zeal for and commitment to economic prosperity that has eluded Nepalis since almost three decades. Restoring Nepal’s image as a proactive non-aligned nation assertive of its sovereignty is a challenge that has been aggravated in the loktantrik years as leaders gave free hand to foreign interests.
NC and partners are currenly of melancholy cast. They need not be so. Their recent debacle is an opportunity to attract, lead and hold non-leftist forces. I had reminded RPP-Nepal’s central committee members, in a lecture on political communication, nearly a decade ago that their worst was over; they would only move up, which they did in the pervious elections. RPP this time, however, suffered devasting defeat because of the blurring of its identity and core values that got sidelined when its leaders got seated in power and faintly revived when out of it.
Aggressive but responsible image is what NC and other so-called loktanrtik parties need to tone up. Their plan s and programmes should be clear and made known to the public should come in good stead for those who are in a temporary period of immense gloom right now.
Don’t Delay Delivery Any More
BY P. KHAREL