Out-Oliing Oli!

 

Uttam Maharjan

 

A  new political party under the leadership of Dr Baburam Bhattarai has recently emerged in Nepal. Although named Naya Shakti Nepal, it consists mostly of old Maoist leaders and cadres, and it can be rightly considered a breakaway party. The fanfare with which the party was launched after a gestation period of nine months does, however, suggest that there is some newness in the party. 

 

Prosperity

The party has adopted some principles which, if fully implemented, may lead Nepal towards unprecedented prosperity. The principles are equitable prosperity (samatamulak samriddhi), proportional/ inclusive/ participatory democracy (samanupatik/ samabeshi/ sahabhagitamulak loktantra), good governance/ good conduct (sushasan/ sadachar), independence/ sovereignty (swadhinta/ sarbabhaumasatta) and enhanced socialism (samunnat samajwadi). Each of the principles begins with the Devanagari letter ‘Sa’. The basic thrust of the party is crafting a vision of making Nepal the richest country in the world in the upcoming 25 years, which is a highly ambitious goal.

Nepal is a least developed country. For the country to occupy the pedestal of richest country seems to be out of the question now. But we have several instances where some countries, even in Asia, have made much progress in a span of some decades. Japan, Malaysia and Singapore serve as fine examples.

Twenty-five years is not a long period in the economic history of any country. Nepal has crossed a quarter century since the Panchayat dispensation was done away with in the early 1990s. When multi-party democracy was ushered in, the political leaders made no bones about cursing the Panchayat system for the undeveloped state the country was in. But the question is, what have these leaders done so far to upgrade the economic status of the country? The economic status of the country is sagging day in, day out. There is no sector in which the country has made progress. Education, healthcare, transportation, industrialisation and other sectors are all in a shambles.

Nepal lacks infrastructure development, a component that is essential for overall development. The decade-long Maoist insurgency destroyed much of the infrastructure and claimed the lives of over 15,000 people. The insurgency was launched for the purpose of freeing the general people from the shackles of domination at the hands of the rulers. The Maoist and government forces were so entangled in a nip-and-tuck situation that at long last the Maoists had to agree to come back to mainstream politics in 2006.

It has been now a decade since the Maoists gave up their tactics of violence and came back to the fold of mainstream politics. The Maoists and other political leaders have squandered the period practically doing nothing for the sake of development. The political leaders are, however, feeling complacent that the constitution has been promulgated to institutionalise the achievements of people’s movements.

When the Constitution was promulgated, Dr Baburam Bhattarai left the Constituent Assembly and also renounced the then UCPN-Maoist (now CPN-Maoist Centre). He then engaged in rigorous preparations for forming a new political party.    

Dr Baburam Bhattarai is not satisfied with the present government nor with his mother party. His new party has tried to break with the traditional philosophy of the Maoists and come up with a new vision. That his party has adopted the tenet of left-democracy is something unheard-of when it comes to political principles.

It may not be an exaggeration to mention that Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli is also coming up with several visions to make Nepal a prosperous country. Although the Prime Minister has not pinpointed the period by which the country will be a prosperous country, his vision is alive with various concepts of infrastructure development. Hydropower development to the point of being able to export energy, supply of piped gas to every household, operation of electric railways and metros and even owning a shipping line with a fleet of Nepali ships are some of the tantalizing visions the Prime Minister has been talking about in public fora.

At a time when the Prime Minister is floating such ideas, which seem to be chimerical given the capabilities and financial capacity of Nepal, Dr Baburam Bhattarai’s new party has emerged with a vision loftier than that of the Prime Minister. To materialise the vision in the next 25 years, Dr Baburam Bhattarai should be in power for the next 25 years. A political party not in power does not formulate any policy and programmes; it is the duty of a government to chalk out plans for development.

The existing Legislature-Parliament will run two years from the date of the promulgation of the constitution. After that, elections will have to be conducted. To turn the vision of Dr Baburam Bhattarai into reality, it will have to come to power not once but for twenty-five years consecutively. If some other party comes to power in between, the vision may hit a snag. It is conventional wisdom that a party hardly gives continuity to the plans and programmes made by its predecessor or predecessors.

The chance of Dr Baburam Bhattarai’s party remaining in power for 25 years on the run is completely out of the question, given the pervert political culture of making and breaking governments in short order. Even now, the CPN-Maoist Centre is pulling out all the stops to dismantle the Oli-led government and set up its own government.

 

Gimmick?

Making visionary plans is not bad per se. In Nepal, many plans and programs are formulated but they seem to have been formulated as a ritual or as a gimmick to impress the people. By thinking up a vision of making Nepal the richest country in the world in a quarter century, Dr  Baburam Bhattarai seems to have adopted a stratagem of out-Oliing Oli. Even if concerted efforts are made to materialise the vision, the people of the present generation will have to live at least till 2041 AD to feel proud of being the citizens of the richest country in the world.

       

 

 

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