Bogeyman Of Authoritarian Rule
Ritu Raj Subedi
Arrogance of two-thirds’, ‘rise of communist totalitarianism’ and ‘interference in judiciary’. These are some accusations that opposition Nepali Congress (NC) is labeling against the Communist Party of Nepal (CPN)-led government that commands two-thirds majority in the House of Representatives. The NC’s restlessness and grumbling is understandable. It had ruled the country for most of the time after the restoration of multiparty democracy in 1990. Once the largest democratic party, the NC has now turned out to be political eunuch so much so that it has lost strength to influence the political process in the country. Never had it become so weak in its history.
Held in derision
As it is held in derision by its bête noire, the communists, this makes its hackles rise. So it is always in search of the Achilles heel of the government. Dr Govinda KC’s fast-onto-death was surely a slam dunk for the party. It hit the streets nationwide by cashing in on Dr Govinda KC’s Satyagraha. As the government and Dr KC inked an agreement, the attempts to use Dr KC’s strike to gain political mileage have gone down the tube. The delayed agreement between the government and Dr KC helped the government score some points, depriving the NC of its new anti-government agenda. The NC launched the nationwide protest against the government, demanding that it meet Dr KC’s agenda. It appeared to be ludicrous to see the NC channeling all its energy against the government on the pretext of meeting Dr KC’s demands. Even the rival camp within the party had opposed this official move and instead proposed awareness campaigns instead of full-fledged stir across the country.
There was some amount of morality in KC’s civic disobedience but the NC is now on the wrong side of history as it is defending the Acting Chief Justice Deepak Raj Joshee for the top post of judiciary. The Parliamentary Hearing Committee rejected his nomination as CJ on ground of moral turpitude. Most verdicts he took in the past while serving in the Appellate Court and Supreme Court were controversial and undermined the spirit of justice and essence of the rule of law. Even his academic certificates are said to be phony. It is an irony that the NC has thrown its support behind him just because of his affinity with it. He was the founding secretary of NC-affiliate Democratic Lawyers’ Association. This will further erode the NC’s credibility.
The NC had invoked the bogeyman of authoritarianism of communists ever since the erstwhile two big communist parties - CPN-UML and CPN-Maoist Centre – formed an alliance ahead of federal and provincial elections last year. One of the key poll agendas of the NC was that the country would plunge into a communist dictatorship should the Left Alliance win the poll. But the accusation lacked substantial ground given that Nepali communists have been an integral part of the country’s democratic movement. Scores of communists had laid down their lives for the cause of democracy, freedom and equality. They represent a different breed so the electorate did not give a hoot about the communist threat and handed a thumping victory to KP Oli-led left alliance that promised to ensure stability, prosperity, nationalism and independent foreign policies.
Following decades of political transition and turmoil, the country has finally found its feet. The people voted the communists to the power after they became disillusioned with many a government led by the NC. Misrule, economic scandals, corruption, inflation, indiscipline, anarchy and frequent agitations frittered away the golden opportunity meant for building the nation anew. There is a strong yearning for enforcement of democratic order, rule of law and good governance. It is natural for the people to expect the restoration of order and attainment of prosperity under the new dispensation.
As the government started asserting its role to achieve the stated objectives, the opposition has pounced on it, charging that the government has displayed the arrogance of two-thirds. The country does not want status quo but must move to meet the people’s overdue aspirations for peace and prosperity. But hardly had five months gone by since the formation of Oli government, the NC hit the streets at home and abroad to topple it. And obviously it does not have a genuine agenda to expose the government. The world knows that Nepali communists reached power through a ballot. The communists swept to electoral victory in the elections conducted by none other than Deuba-led government. How can they be totalitarian? So the foreign nations are unlikely to buy the NC’s logic that the CPN is pushing the nation towards a despotic regime.
NC’s street protest is also seen as a strategy of party leadership to engage its cadres frustrated by the electoral loss. Sher Bahadur Deuba-led panel had also suffered defeat in the elections held to pick the heads of sister organizations. And Deuba seems to have raised the issue of authoritarianism so as to escape the internal crisis in the party. Many NC stalwarts and functionaries have aired that president Deuba has imposed his authoritarian tendency and muzzled the inner-party democracy. In order to divert as well as dampen the growing ire against his own leadership, Deuba is in a desperate bid for street agitation.
As a responsible opposition, it should press the government to curb corruption, maintain good governance and check inflation. The development works are not picking pace and the opposition should pin down government to finish the development projects in time. It should contribute to institutionalising the federal republic. Once the system takes root and economic growth takes off, the nation will not be bogged down with parochial political agenda and bureaucratic inertia.