Stability: The Goal Of New Political Order
Finally, the much-awaited elections to the federal parliament and state assemblies have been concluded. Although the election results show that the Left Alliance is sweeping the elections, what is more important is that whatever government is installed political stability should prevail. With the installation of the federal government and state assemblies, the period of transition that has been hounding the country for over a decade will happily come to an end.
Nepal is now heading towards a new era marked by a new system of federalism. The country has experienced several systems of governance. It took over a decade since the abolition of the monarchy to institutionalise the federal setup. This is due mainly to lack of vision and acumen on the part of the major political parties and their leaders. The first Constituent Assembly consisting of 601 members could not accomplish its mission of writing the constitution even in four years; rather, it had to go into dissolution when its extended tenure was about to expire. The second Constituent Assembly did write the constitution after the powerful earthquake of 2015 to show to the world community that the major political parties had no differences of opinion regarding the contents of the constitution so that aid could be garnered from the foreign countries and international agencies for reconstruction and rehabilitation purposes.
The period of transition had begun since 2006, when the Comprehensive Peace Accord was signed, by dint of which the combatant Maoists abandoned their violence and joined the mainstream of politics. The transition would have ended a long time before had the political leaders shown political maturity and keen leadership. The transition period is marked by political squabbles and accusations and counter-accusations among the political parties, giving rise to political instability.
Political instability has taken its toll on the political and economic domains. On the political front, no government has been allowed to run its full term. A government can run one year or so, after which it is bound to collapse. Moreover, a so-called gentlemen’s agreement tends to restrict the tenure of a government to a year or less. The main duties of the political parties seem to be how to form or break governments. The existence of transient governments is a bane for the country as far as political stability is concerned.
The impact of political instability directly hits economic front. The volatile situation on the political front badly affects development activities that are sorely required for the country. Development activities have not been able to get off the ground since the abolition of the monarchy. When the monarchy was prevalent in the country, the political leaders tended to blame the state of underdevelopment on the monarchy, treating it as a stumbling block to development. But now the monarchy is gone and the leaders have nobody or nothing to blame for the plight of the country. In fact, it is the leaders themselves that are to blame for the sorry state the country is in.
These have become things of the past. We will soon have a new federal system with the federal parliament and state assemblies in place. The Upper House will also be formed. The federal and provincial governments should start with a clean slate. There is a tendency on the part of the opposition party or parties to criticise the ruling party or parties, which does not bode well for the country. In fact, the ruling and opposition parties should act as good bedfellow; the opposition parties should act as a watchdog and guide the government should it go astray. But in our context, they treat each other as arch-rivals.
During the hustings to the just concluded elections, the Nepali Congress tried to scare the people with the boogeyman of communist dictatorship. But the people did not believe it; as a result, the Nepali Congress got more that it bargained for. Nation-building is the mission that should be shouldered by the political parties whether they are in power or in the opposition. It is erroneous to think that such a noble task falls squarely on the shoulders of the government only. The political forces outside the government should go hand in hand with the government to accomplish the task of nation-building by lending a hand in initiating and completing development projects in time.
The new government to be formed soon, together with the state assemblies, should live up to the public expectations. The oncoming results show that the Left Alliance will, in all probability, form the first federal government. The government, whether a left one or otherwise, should run for the next five years, thus bringing about political stability. Political stability will definitely give rise to economic prosperity, if the government has the will power and determination to develop the country. All the stakeholders, including the general people, will, no doubt, side with the government in this noble task of nation-building. There are still many basic problems that need to be tackled. The people do not want a smart city right now. They want basic amenities like clean drinking water, sanitation, a good transportation/transit system, good education and good healthcare facilities. After such amenities are in place, a smart city with flyovers, underpasses, metro railways, monorails and the like may be established.
There are remote, inaccessible places where the rays of development are yet to reach and where the people are compelled to live a hand-to-mouth existence. The state assemblies, in close coordination with the federal government, should take stock of the real situation obtaining in such places and take concrete measures to lift the people out of privation and deprivation. Without developing such places, overall national development is out of the question. It would be prudent to adopt the policy of positive discrimination as far as developing backward areas is concerned.
The people have now pinned high hopes on the federal system that it will deliver as per public aspirations. For this to happen, the federal government and the state assemblies should prioritise development, build infrastructures where required and work honestly and efficiently towards changing the face of the country through good governance, zero tolerance on corruption and other anomalies and transparency. Let’s hope that the new federal system will not let the people down.