Sorting Out Political Differences

 

Uttam Maharjan

At a time when the local polls, in hibernation for two decades, are being held on May 14, 2017 much to the delight of the common people, including the Madhesi people, the Madhes-based parties are racking up protests under the pretext that the constitution amendment bill has not been endorsed in their favour.  However, an understanding has been made between the government and the Madhes-based parties that a high-level commission will be formed to tackle the problem surrounding the re-demarcation of provinces, but a formal deal is yet to come out.  And the constitution amendment bill will be endorsed by the parties, including the CPN-UML.

Loud voices

The constitution was endorsed by the then Constituent Assembly in 2015 with over 90 per cent of the ayes. Viewed thus, the constitution is a well-accepted Magna Charta of Nepal. But the Madhesi parties have not accepted it, reasoning that the national charter does not reflect the aspirations of the Madhesi people. The representation of the Madhesi parties is small in the parliament; yet, their voices are louder than those of the major parties.

Some Madhes-based parties have registered with the Election Commission for the  upcoming local polls, whereas others are agitating against the polls. They have created disturbances in some districts of the country as a premonition that they will disrupt the polls. This dual character of the Madhesi parties is inscrutable as they have adopted a strategy for participating in and disrupting the polls at the same time.

The Madhesi parties are not firm of purpose. They claim that no other parties other than theirs can sweep the polls in the Terai-Madhes, and that other parties cannot make their presence felt in the region. But the fact is that the Madhesi people have been sick and tired of their leaders. The Madhesi leaders have hardly done anything beneficial to the Madhesi people despite their frequent ascension to power. The Madhesi movements waged by the Madhesi parties for the sake of lifting the socio-economic status of the Madhesi people have not produced any desired results till now.

The Madhesi parties are still bogged down in the morass of parochial nationalism. They have never cherished the fact that only the overall development of the country can lead to development of the Terai-Madhes as well. They are parroting all the while that the Madhesi people are exploited. But the fact is that the lot of other people is not better, either. The country needs to embark upon a national development campaign for all-out development. The success of such a campaign, however, hinges on political stability and the integrity of the political leaders.

The country has been in transition for over a decade. The Comprehensive Peace Agreement was signed by the Maoists and the then seven-party alliance in 2006, paving the way for the Maoists to come to the mainstream of politics. It took nine years for the constitution to come out. But the constitution that was promulgated so late has not been implemented yet. Roadblocks are cropping up in its implementation due mainly to unconscionable exception to it by the Madhes-based parties.

Needless to reiterate, the transitional phase of the country needs to be ended, and political stability restored. The peace process that began in 2006 is yet to be fully completed. Although  adjustment of the Maoist combatants has been completed, the transitional justice mechanism is yet to go off the ground. The commission formed for this very purpose is facing obstacles in accomplishing the task assigned to it.

Anyway, the government and the political parties are gearing up for the local elections. Preparations for the polls are being made on a war footing. The completion of the polls will set the stage for conducting provincial and federal elections by January 2018. Some parties are, however, clamouring that the local polls should be conducted by the yet-to-be-formed provincial assemblies. The need of the hour is to conduct the local polls as the local bodies have remained devoid of people’s representatives since 2002 A.D.

The local bodies have been manned by government employees since then. As the government employees may not be familiar with local conditions, they have not been able to work to the satisfaction of the local people. At one time the local bodies were run with the help of an all-party mechanism comprising representatives from various political parties, but the mechanism had to be done away with due to the prevalence of irregularities and malpractices.

It is imprudent on the part of the Madhesi parties to not only boycott, but also disrupt the upcoming polls when some other parties of their fraternity have made up their mind to partake in the polls. Further, seeking outside assistance to coerce the government into fulfilling their demands is not justifiable.

A constitution cannot satisfy all. But it is reckoned to be acceptable if it is endorsed by a majority. This is what has actually happened to the constitution of the country. In a democracy, the voice of the majority is accepted, whereas the voice of the minority is respected. This principle should be cherished by every responsible political party or leader. But contrariwise, the Madhesi parties are showing a kind of contumacy by publicly declaring that anything short of the endorsement of the constitution amendment bill in their favour will not be acceptable to them.

Childish stubbornness

The Madhesi parties should shed their childish stubbornness and convert the just crafted understanding into a formal pact. It would be injudicious on the part of the Madhesi parties to escape from the polls as it will not bring out a solution to any problem. After all, the Madhesi parties will have to participate in the provincial and federal polls so as to project their identity as responsible parties in the national politics by shedding their mulish character. 

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