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We the People

One Democratic senator in the U.S. senatorial discussions on the appointment of a critical supreme court justice last week was heard reminding the bipartisan panel that the U.S. constitution began with ‘We the people…’ and not ‘We the parties…’. The at times suicidal partisan politics of Nepal where even the constitution is dictated by partisan whips could certainly take a hint from the fact that even the function of the American constitution need at times be reminded in the manner it did that it was the people and not the political parties that are sovereign in democracies. In the Nepali case, particularly, the reintroduction formally of the political parties in 1990 stressed the political party over that of the right to organize and so a period of excessive partisan politics ensued to the extent that partisan politics contributed to the demise of the 1990 constitution and the continuation of a political phase that has been unheededly crisis prone. Even a two-thirds majority in parliament has not assuaged the people that the crisis is over and much of the onus for this falls squarely on the political parties and their leadership.
No democracy is immune from the role of politics in the conduct of political parties. Democracy, however, must draw a line where politics chooses the party over the people who democracy is meant to serve. The people suffer when the party is held sovereign. By default, this would mean that, not the people, but the person that heads the political party is sovereign. This is what is happening in the Nepali case as has happened elsewhere too. Who after all draws the line between partisan politics and people’s welfare. It cannot but be the constitutional organs and the political parties which conduct politics. In the Nepali case, Nepali interpretation of party politics has blurred the fact that politics should serve the people. The fault for this lies squarely on the political parties and, more particularly, on the leaders who have assumed the role of potentates since it is they who monopolise the parties to the extent that they can subvert the party as well as other institutions required to balance their conduct in a democratic manner. That the U.S. senate needed reminding in the manner it deed at this mature state of American democracy speaks much of the fact that trust in American institutions has deteriorated rapidly in the States. In the Nepali case, the absence of trust is near universal.
The frustration in Nepal of this absence lies in the equally universal belief that the problem is systemic. Democrats are wont to say that this disbelief must be removed through participation and options built for the purpose of utilizing avenues of democratic change. But this suggestion comes with a skeptic dose of realization that our politics demonstrates this impudence with the sole purpose of monopolizing the democratic process, in fact subverting it, so that they retain the monopoly in perpetuity. With the monopoly of money, muscle and media, this subversion and its extents are stark in the public’s eye. When it comes to options, thus, real-politics cannot but distance itself from a constitutional process designed to perpetuate the aberrations. What is alarming is that those seeking change must then turn their eyes to extra-constitutional possibilities. It is this that perpetuates the crisis in Nepal.

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