Ideological Deviation In Politics
Yuba Nath Lamsal
Political parties are founded on particular ideology for which they advance their activities. Ideology and values are the soul of political parties based on which they train their cadres, workers and supporters to achieve their policy goal as well as shape their life style. It is the ideology and values that make a political party distinct and different from others.
Originally, our political parties, too, were founded on certain ideological ground and the leaders, at least in the initial days, followed these ideals and accordingly shaped their thinking and life styles. However, as the days and years passed and Nepal entered into a new political phase, especially after the 1990 political change, ideals slowly started fading in the politics of Nepal. Ideology, political ideals and morality were replaced by opportunism guided by the motive of power politics. In the name of pragmatism, the political parties and leaders started adjusting their thinking, lifestyle and working procedures to cope with the newer trends brought about by the wave of capitalism, which starkly contrasts with what they preach in their party documents and public speeches. The inherent discrepancy between the theory and practice and between the words and actions is what has contributed to the stemming of contradictions and distortions in our political construct.
It is not the case of a single or any particular party but a general phenomenon in our politics. One likes it or not, the stark reality is that all the political parties in Nepal are devoid of ideology and principles on which they were founded. Politics sans values and principles often becomes mere gamble for power, money and position. The essence of democracy and value system is wearing off rendering democracy into a mere show piece in the glass case of ‘market politics’, in which democracy is defined and determined on the principle of ‘demand-supply’ and ‘profit-loss’. Of late, the key objective of our political parties seems to be power, position and perks, for which they are prepared to do anything and everything. This is exactly the identical trend that failed our democracy in the past and gave rise to dictatorship requiring people to wage struggles time and again for their democratic rights and freedom.
The political parties hardly practice what they preach. This inconsistency and discrepancy in principle and practice, and in rhetoric and action have raised question on the credibility of the political parties and their leaders, making it difficult to even guess what course of action the parties and leaders will take in future. Moral authority and credibility are the key strength of the parties and strong basis to win the trust of the people in politics. When principle, ideology and moral authority cease to guide the parties and leaders, people lose faith in system that creates huge gulf between the people and the parties. This is partly the reason why the political parties are jockeying for power and position rather than working for values and principles they cherish. The present crisis in our politics can be attributed to this tendency of the parties and their leaders.
In the present electoral politics, which is also called the ‘market politics’, everything is determined by the demand of the market—the voters. Eyes of leaders get fixed on the next election and anything that helps win the election becomes moral and justifiable for the politicians and political parties. The parties and leaders hesitate to take action on any issue if that does not help the election, no matter how grave is its implication and ramification on the society and the country. In the market or vote politics, anything is valid provided it helps in the election.
In such a condition, immediate gains precede the long-term gains and interests of the people and the country. This is the survival tactics of the political parties and gain power. When the parties accord priority to the existential politics, values and norms take a back seat. The parties, instead of standing firmly for the cause and ideals they fought for, take decisions that serve the immediate interests of particular leaders and their coteries.
Looking at the documents of the parties, they appear to be idealistic, democratic, egalitarian and truly dedicated to people’s larger welfare. However, in practice, they hardly follow their party documents, election manifesto and their public utterances. Let us take a look at the individual political parties.
In the last general election, the Nepali Congress emerged as the largest party in parliament, whereas the CPN-UML and CPN-Maoist Center as the second and third largest parties. Now the CPN-Maoist is leading the coalition government in which the Nepali Congress is the principal constituent, whereas the CPN-UML is in the opposition bench.
The CPN-Maoist Center is the party that was founded on Marxist, Leninist and Maoist ideology. This party also led the decade-long insurgency or ‘ People’s War’, in which thousands of people died, many injured and disabled. The wound of the conflict is yet to be healed. Despite being founded on Marxist, Leninist and Maoist ideology, the party has not fully adhered to this ideology; instead it has taken the parliamentary path which is inimical to communist ideology.
The Nepali Congress, too, appears to have markedly deviated from the ideology it has cherished. The ideological ground upon which the party was built is democratic socialism which is slowly but surely losing steam in the party. The democratic socialism remains only in Nepali Congress documents and in practical politics capitalism has taken its place.
CPN-UML is another key party, which, too, faces the question of ideological vacillation. The party was founded on the ideological ground of Marxism-Leninism. Later, the guiding principle of the party was modified in the name of ‘ people’s Multi-party democracy’ to adjust in the newly emerged political scenario and to accommodate parliamentary system. In reality, parliamentary system is the concept of capitalist democracy and has no place in the original Marxism-Leninism.
There are quite a number of other fringe parties in Nepal. They too have no firm ideological ground and consistency. Power and position are the key goal and attraction of most of the parties. Thus, ideologies, principles and values are fading away in the politics of Nepal, which is being replaced by opportunism, intrigues, muscle and money power. It is this tendency that has corrupted and degraded our political system.