Political Polarisation And Mud-slinging
Historic elections for provincial assembly and federal parliament are round the corner. Political parties are engrossed in finalising their candidates. While election campaign has already started, parties are yet to hold nationwide election publicity related mass assemblies. It is in such mass gatherings that the leaders launch stinging remarks against their rivals or the rival parties. But, because of the unprecedented political polarisation with the left alliance of the CPN-UML and the CPN-Maoist Center and the democratic alliance led by Nepali Congress, arrows of accusations and counter accusations are already swinging in the air.
Although it is a sensitive time for the leaders to insitutionalise the federal system, they seem to be focused on only pointing at weaknesses of the other parties only to emerge victorious in the elections. It is normal for rival parties to present themselves as better than the other during the elections. And this objective they could fulfill by talking about themselves, their past actions and future plans. But they are not doing so. They are, as in the past, much focusing on heaping accusations on the others.
Unlike in the past elections, a sharp political polarisation has emerged this time. The polarisation has been unprecedented. No political expert could make prediction of such polarisation till two months ago. There were no signs at all of the possible alliance between the UML and the MC because the MC had formed electoral alliance with the Nepali Congress (NC) in many places during the local polls held some five months back. And as it had been a major ruling party in the present NC-led government, it was beyond guess that the UML and MC were working silently to form electoral alliance and announce that they would unify the two parties soon. And the announcement of the electoral alliance and the planned unification came as a shock to the NC while some of the leaders of the newly formed left alliance did not refrain from making boastful, in fact unnecessary, claims that the alliance would reap a two-third majority. As the UML has stood the first and the MC the third largest party in the local polls, their electoral alliance and planned unification was an existential question for the NC, the second largest party as per the recent local polls. Naturally, the NC felt a grave political shock.
But, the left alliance also bore good fruits immediately even for the NC. The Bijay Kumar Gachchhadar-led Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum (Democratic) got merged with it. Gachchhadar had left NC a decade ago during the heyday of the Madesh movement and joined the key force of the movement, the then Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum from which he later on divorced to form his party. Some fringe parties have also joined the NC, for instance, very recently the Akhanda Nepal party got merged with the NC. So much so that Dr. Baburam Bhattarai who first joined the left alliance have now formed electoral alliance with the NC divorcing himself and his Naya Shakti Nepal party from the left alliance. The Madhes-based Rastriya Janata Party Nepal is likely to form electoral alliance with the NC while Rastriya Prajatantra Party Nepal is already in the NC fold.
The NC should have been thankful to the left alliance for all this positive development for it. But it is only worried about possible victory of the alliance. The RJP-N leaders have been saying that they would form electoral alliance with NC only to defeat the left alliance. The talks between the NC and the RJP-N over the seat sharing in election for the federal parliament are yet to bear fruit. Even then, the NC seems to be ready to compromise with the Madhes-based party on anything if that can help defeat the left alliance.
Moreover, the NC leaders have already started to accuse the left alliance that they were for communist dictatorship. It seems the NC has no other slogan than cautioning the people about communist dictatorship. The NC has been using this particular electioneering slogan in democratic elections since 1950s. However, the leftist parties in Nepal have been gaining more and more number of votes despite this, and six communist leaders have already run the government as the executive head, the Prime Minister. This means, NC’s cautioning is baseless and ineffective in case of elections. But it is pity that even this time around the NC will find no other better accusation to make than the threat of communist dictatorship. The NC should understand that the constitution is the basic framework for all parties to run the government and that the constitution does not allow any dictatorship.
Political polarisation has made it clear that Nepal is on the path to political stability. It is does not matter which alliance emerges victorious, what matters for political stability is that there is no hung parliament. Given the two main electoral alliances and the tough competition, it is highly possible that either one will come out to be winner with majority seats in the federal parliament. But there is still doubt even on this because of the proportional system in which parties get seats in parliament as per the total number of votes they secure in elections. In such cases, parties such as RPP, RJP-N and Federal Socialist Party will have greater say in government formation as either the UML-MC alliance or NC will form the government. But, that will not be a good development with regard to political stability.
Nepal’s latest political development is the result of cooperation among the major political parties, now divided into two broad alliances. They should keep this basic thing in mind, and instead of resorting to unnecessary mudslinging, they had better present their plans. They should know if they try to ‘expose’ their rivals, they will also be ‘exposed’ which will only give a sense to the people that no political party is good enough. And such public perception of the existing political parties will not be good for themselves.