Discourses Of Alternative Politics In Nepal



Kushal Pokharel

The need of a non-conventional political force with new visions, policies, methods and culture has now become a strong political discourse globally. Unprecedented crises of the conventional political systems operating under the ideological binary of capitalism versus socialism has led to intense deliberations on the alternative model of politics to address the public demand for positive change and improvement in their livelihood. Frustrated by the existing political and governance system that is apparently non-transparent, non-inclusive characterised by corruption and nepotism, the general people across the globe are seeking change that can liberate them from the common problems of life and give them a long-term prosperity.

Global scenario

Whether we observe the rise of Aam Aadmi Party in India or the victory of Podemos, a small group of radical academics, in Sweden which was able to grab eight seats in the European parliament within four months of its establishment, the aspiration of the general people all over the world for change becomes evident. Providing alternative models of citizens politics, these political forces were able to leave their strong impression in the domestic politics within a relatively short span of time.

Particularly after the April Uprising 2006 that fundamentally transformed the governance system of Nepal from a centralised unitary Hindu state to a secular republican state, several movements have been launched out of the need of an alternative political force to replace the existing political parties. Concluding that the mainstream political parties have significantly failed to deliver the promises made to the people owing to their incompetencies and ill-intentions, citizen movements were also witnessed demanding for a systemic change in the way the leadership functions in this country.

With an objective of galvanising disillusioned youth into a strong force to combat the hegemony of age-old parties, a new political party named ‘Bibeksheel Nepali’ came into existence in 2012. Tackling the perpetual problems of corruption, conspiracy among others that is deeply entrenched in every spheres of public life in Nepal has been the main objective of this party. Although it hasn’t been able to significantly expand its activities at the grassroots yet, Bibeksheel Nepali has received appreciations from a bunch of young enthusiasts and optimistic population particularly in the urban areas, including the Nepali Diaspora. In an attempt to be transparent and accountable, this party has also heralded a trend of making public the financial activities through websites and social networking forums.        

Of late, there has been attempts from some segments of the political leadership who were once an integral part of the conventional political system to launch a new political movement with economic development and prosperity as its main objective. Dr. Baburam Bhattarai, a former Maoist ideologue and a popular name among the Nepali people, last year announced a party called ‘Naya Shakti’ promising to herald a new political culture with a sense of responsibility. With accountability, rule of law and participatory democracy as the core principles, Naya Shakti has vowed to get the country out of the shackles of poverty. Interestingly, the party’s official document states that Nepal will be made the world’s richest country in 25 years, a commitment that sounds highly ambitious. However, the party remains to be tested and is still in early phase of organisation development already receiving some serious setbacks in its establishment phase.

The list of the new political parties with promise of overhauling the politics and governance system of the country is growing in Nepal. Earlier this week, Rabindra Mishra, a towering Nepali journalist associated with BBC Nepali Service, issuing a press release made clear of his intention to establish a new political party to change the destiny of the nation. Putting ‘honesty’, ‘meritocracy’ and ‘transparency’ at the core, he has vowed to transform politics with the support of a team of time-tested bureaucrats, development planners, independent experts and cinema artists. What is interesting in Mishra’s notion of conducting politics is refraining from the politics as a means of survival and extracting state resources for personal benefits.

Uphill task ahead

The path for the alternative political forces to emerge as a major actor in Nepal’s politics looks topsy-turvy. Fraught with the challenges of having a stronghold at regional and local level, these newly established parties need to come up with some innovative intervention strategies to explain their agendas and get the public support for the same. In the context of a society like ours where majority of the population live in rural areas and the level of discursive political consciousness is pretty low, such forces ought to come up with unique ways of managing their activities to garner the public support.

Perhaps a strong unity among these non-conventional forces who firmly believe in the possibility of systemic change through innovative political leadership can change the course of the nation. With a team of competent individuals from different walks of life although lacking in political experience, policy reform for systemic change is still a possibility.              

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