Act In Spirit Of Democracy
Yuba Nath Lamsal
Politics in a democratic system is a clash of ideas, ideologies and sometimes of egos. Multiple players with multiple interests compete in the game of power, for which different options and alternatives are explored and experimented. This often leads to conflict and confrontation in the society, but can be finally dealt with through negation and dialogue. This is the beauty of democracy.
Conflict is a natural dynamics of a vibrant society, without which civilisation hardly advances. The conflict management is an intricate art through which an amicable solution is sought to ensure maximum acceptability. There can never be a universal acceptability on any issue in the present complicated and asymmetric world.
Nepal is a diverse country not merely on ethnic, lingual and cultural identity, but also in ideas, ideals and ideologies. The composition of our parliament reflects this great diversity of political ideas and ideologies. The parliament is composed of all rightists, centrists, leftists, regionalists, racists, liberals, conservatives, seculars, federalist and anti-federalists. The electoral system we have adopted that has ensured representation not only of all ethnic clusters, but also all ideas and ideologies.
In a diverse society like ours, it is natural to have conflicts. These conflicts are of varied nature, forms and manifestations. It is, therefore, necessary to adopt prudent methods and approaches to handle and manage these conflicts, for which those in the leadership have greater responsibility.
What we must take into account is the fact that nothing in this world can be acceptable to all. What is to be done in this context is that we must try to find at least maximum acceptability. If we seek to find universal acceptability on any issue, it will just be next to impossible and such an effort will only lead to failure.
Democracy is a system that guarantees right to disagree and dissent. Individuals, groups and parties may disagree on a particular issue, but they must accept the rules of game. In our developing democracy, finding universal acceptability will be even harder because our society is more diverse but conservative. We have different ideas, interests, ideologies and thoughts at work in our politics and we keep on fighting on each and every issue. If we look at events and developments, more particularly after the country was declared a republic, there is no single issue that has been free from dispute. The nature of political parties is to dissent and this should be taken as a natural phenomenon.
Conflict is, therefore, a part of vibrant and diverse society. The conflict we have in our political arena is to be taken along the similar line. But it should not be taken just for a granted. The political and other conflicts, if not addressed and resolved in time and in an appropriate manner, may flare up in a way that may ultimately lead to hatred and violence in the society—the point about which all of us more particularly the leadership must be alert. In such a case, the conflict may become protracted leading to perpetual crisis. This is exactly what is being felt in the present context of Nepal. As a result, sustainable political solution seems to be an illusion simply because the roots of conflict have not been identified and addressed properly.
Is the conflict that we are facing in Nepal political, social, ethnic, cultural or economic? In a way, it is all. But efforts were made only to resolve political conflict leaving all others unsettled. Political conflict can be resolved relatively more easily and quickly. Lesser efforts have been made to resolve other conflicts. Given the nature and gravity of other conflicts, it requires prudent approach, more time, patience and tolerance to see the results even if measures are taken to address them. Unfortunately, we seem to have only done lip service to address these conflicts on practical terms only focusing on the political conflict.
Ethnic, cultural and social issues, too, are important and need to be resolved. But what is to be taken into account more seriously is that economic conflict is the root of all conflicts. Other conflicts can be automatically resolved to a large extent, if we resolve political and economic conflicts. Political and economic conflicts are the core while ethnic, social and cultural issues are peripheral. But we have given too much focus on core issues totally ignoring the peripheral subjects. This is, perhaps, the reason why we are facing perpetual crisis in Nepal and saw the mother of all conflicts in the form of decade-long armed insurgency.
We have so far tried to resolve the political conflict, but not in a way that satisfies all. It is not to say that ethnic, social and cultural issues are less important. Given the nature of our conflict, political and economic issues require first and the foremost priority, if we are to find a sustainable solution to our crisis. If economic and political conflicts are left unresolved, settlement of other issues alone would not bring about sustainable peace and stability.
However, even the political conflict has not been settled in our country. The constitution we adopted last year seems to be still a bone of contention. Although the constitution was adopted with the participation of more than 90 per cent elected people's representatives in the Constituent Assembly, the statute remains to be fully implemented in the absence of acceptance by a section of the country, namely the Madhesis. If we honour the rule of game and democracy, we must accept the decision of the majority. Madhesis may have their disgruntlement, but they need to take the ownership of the constitution since it was adopted by the 90 per cent members of the Constituent Assembly to which they are also part. Thus, the Madhesis need to first take ownership of the constitution and simultaneously advance the process of its amendment. This is the proper and democratic way. The constitution is being amended because the Madhesis have not accepted it. What if other groups and sections did not accept the amended constitution?
The ruling parties seem to be more liberal and accommodating and are trying to address the concerns and demands of the Madhesis and janajatis, despite the fact that the overwhelming majority accepted the constitution. The spirit of democracy is that the decision of the majority should prevail and concerns of the minority, too, be addressed. It is with this spirit the ruling parties have tabled the constitution amendment bill in parliament. When the majority is serious about the concerns and demands of the minority, the minority, too, needs to be more flexible and accommodating especially when the ruling parties have faced stiff criticism and pressure from the opposition, which is seeking to fail the constitution amendment bill.
Moreover, the opposition party also needs to take into account the fact that the entire political purpose will be defeated and the political process fail, if the constitution is not fully implemented. For the implementation of the constitution, three tiers of election must be held within a year. If the constitution fails, our democracy will fail, our entire efforts and energy for the last one decade will be wasted and conflict will resurgent again. This requires all political parties, both ruling and the opposition, to be more flexible and act accordingly so that the country will enter into an era of sustainable peace, stability and prosperity.