Political Parties Caught In Contradiction
The political parties in Nepal are in a state of paradox. They are caught between contradictions. On the one hand, these parties have to be very efficient and effective in terms of building their organisations, chalking out strategies and making decisions accordingly to respond to the fast changing political context. On the other hand, they have to engage in transactional activities in managing and addressing the diverse aspirations and interests within the parties. This is so entangling and time taking that it tends to handicap the parties in taking decisions in a swift manner to rise to the occasion.
Moreover, over the years, ideological debates and deliberations have almost waned in all the parties. The communist parties that are congenitally known for their hairsplitting debates and polemics seem not very lively in terms of party strategy debates and deliberations.
The downfall of the Soviet Union that had once ruled the roost of Marxist-Leninist politics led to the crumbling of the communist ideological edifice. The relevance of the fundamentals of Marxist ideology itself in practical life has been questioned. Indeed, the fall of Soviet communism stripped off the arsenals of these communist parties to engage in debates and polemics not only in Nepal but also in other parts of the world. Those were the days when the communist parties the world over were divided and beholden to the Soviet and Chinese camps. Those who sided to the Soviet camp were labeled as revisionist and reformist whereas Chinese ideology was considered more fiery, revolutionary and radical.
After Deng handled the political leadership in China he transformed the Chinese economy through the pursuit of capitalist reforms, giving up the dialogical stridency that was the strength and rallying point of the Mao era. Deng pursued pragmatic politics sending the rigour of ideology into oblivion. That had a huge and far reaching
impact on the international communist movement.
In Nepal, even the Maoists who had waged a 10-year-long armed conflict during the last decades have been found gradually abandoning the Marxist rhetoric and phraseologies. They have immersed themselves in the mundane politics characterised by the hurly burly of power mongering and manipulation. The Maoists have been split into several splinter groups representing the spectrum of right and left deviation with Babu Ram Bhattarai’s Naya Shakti Party offering the case of his disillusionment with the communist ideology both in letter and spirit. Biplap’s Maoist group has been fighting for preservation of the legacy of left communism.
However, a careful scanning of the documents of the Maoist groups indicates a sharp erosion in the ideological content. The pragmatics of power, consumerism and greed has overwhelmed them. Today the Maoist Centre has been leading the coalition government, and all that the incumbent government and ministers seem focused are on maintaining and carrying on the intriguing politics and vintage practices that tend to benefit individual leaders and party cadres in lieu of the broader masses and people. The
tendencies of the leaders are apparently frustrating and disconcerting. They indulge in making nefarious misuse of their official position for individual gains.
A moderate communist party like the CPN (UML) fares no better on any count. The party is reputed, if not dis-reputed, for responding to the context in a very pragmatic and opportunistic manner as if it is bereft of any ideological foundation, compass and principle. The Nepali Congress has also compromised on its principles and values, cohabited with stranger and antithetical leaders, parties and political groups for power that in no way are friendly to its long-held views and perspectives.
With the degeneration of politics, depriving the political parties of their value-based ideology and principles, the leaders have turned into shrewd managers, tacticians and game manipulators. The routine task of the leaders has been reduced to juggling with the day-to-day affairs of the party he or she leads and patronising the party workers. They are messed up with tackling the complaints and petty interests of their party functionaries and cadres. The leaders squander their valuable time and resources in managing the dissension and dissidence within the party.
This was made clear when the Nepali Congress took unnecessarily a long time to manage the aspirations of several leaders within the party to get the ministerial berths. It took almost a month to finally submit the list of the ministers to the prime minister to allocate the ministerial portfolios and administer the oath of office to them. This indicates that the NC is plagued with factionalism. Each faction within the party did harden its position to dig in and get more positions in the cabinet. Party president Sher Bahadur Deuba had a tough time managing the aspirations of the claimants for ministership. There was neither the discernible interest nor space to use one’s own ability and autonomy for the leaders to allot the ministerial responsibilities based on the merit and competence of the leaders. The set of ministers currently manning the cabinet are neophytes, lacking previous experience in handling the ministerial tasks and responsibilities.
Just as there is a need for managing and sewing the intra-party dissension, there is also an equally necessity to maintain and enhance relationships with the other political parties that hold major stakes in national politics. The business of national politics has become transaction-oriented. It has very little room for innovating political ideas and vision for democratisation and development of the country. Politics should, therefore, be made efficient and effective to decide appropriately on setting the tone for the days to come.
Prof. Dr. Jagdish Prasad Agrawal is a well-known name in the health professions education sector of Nepal. Having joined Maharajgunj Medical Campus under...