Split Of Bibeksheel-Sajha Party
Giving boost to the conventional notion which considers politics as a separate sphere where a bunch of young professionals and other experts of a non-political background have no significant place, the recent split in the Bibeksheel-Sajha party has posed a grave question for those who believe in the potential of alternative politics in Nepal.
Amid increasing need of unity among the like-minded political forces who wish to set up an ethical political culture for effective public service delivery, the news comes as a sign of bad omen for institutionalising the discourse of alternative politics. Some of the pertinent questions that resonate are: How can the public trust any political party as their real saviour? Is collaborative leadership impossible? Why is there a huge gap between actions and words in every political party?
Projecting themselves as champion of value based politics and a better culture founded on the ideals of transparency, meritocracy and integrity, the party had been receiving encouraging support from a group of intellectual citizenry who aspire to see change in the mainstream leadership until its recent disintegration. Creating a buzz with the Mayoral candidacy of a young and spirited lady, the then Bibeksheel Nepali caught an overwhelming public attention though it was not reflected in public vote in the same fashion. Also, the candidacy of Sajha party’s Kishor Thapa had sent some shockwaves in the mainstream parties who received a great deal of moral support but succumbed to the loyal politics which is the hallmark of Nepali citizens.
In less than two years of its formation, Bibeksheel-Sajha has witnessed a political fissure which is really unfortunate. While unity and separation has remained the inherent characteristics of Nepali politics, the rupture in the party that had promised to exhibit a different political culture is extremely shocking. Having said that, the disgruntled members have already filed their proposal for a new party named ‘Bibeksheel Nepali’ at the Election Commission with the signature of 42 per cent of the central committee members.
Explaining their decision as a brutal one but of utmost importance, Ujwal Thapa, one of the party coordinators has hinted at some deep misunderstanding in terms of doing politics between the two parties. While Thapa claims that the leaders of Sajha party are hell-bent on occupying drivers’ seat in the national politics thereby undermining the political knowledge and experience of the Bibeksheel youths, his group is for practicing a value based politics as promised to the public by promoting inclusive democracy. On the contrary, the Mishra’s faction has alleges Bibeksheel for being confined to campaign politics and showing apathy towards functioning as a full-fledged political party.
In the aftermath of the party break up, Mr. Thapa in a series of interviews has expressed his utter dissatisfaction over the failure of Bibeksheel-Sajha to nurture a culture of participatory democracy. Ranging from the recent decisions to expand the central committees by hand-picking the members to the formation of women and youths organisations going against the spirit of the earlier agreements, he has considered all these actions as lop-sided. More worrisome is the allegation of financial non-transparency to the party that has reiterated its commitment to holding the highest degree of integrity and transparency since its establishment.
But the party’s spokesperson has out rightly rejected these grievances and pointed out to Mr. Thapa who was in an apex position in the capacity of co-ordinator asking him the reasons for not asserting these agendas in a pro-active manner. Reminiscing of the central party committee meeting that was scheduled for this week to discuss on his discontent that came in the press few days back, the spokesperson termed the separation as an incident of extreme shock. Nevertheless, it is also being speculated that the towering personality of Rabindra Mishra stood as a major obstacle along the way to which Mr. Thapa totally disagrees.
The split has disapproved the hypothesis that a combination of young and passionate minds with experienced professionals from different walks of life can result in better collaboration for the general welfare.
While the debate over who was chiefly responsible for the mess is continuing, the faith of the ordinary citizens has been dashed. As the general public was closely observing the newly formed parties and making up their mind on how to move ahead in future, the unexpected news of the party break up has adversely affected its psyche.
In this regard, the main criteria of evaluating these parties in future will definitely be the role they play for alleviating the sufferings of the general public. Instead of words, actions will be key to restore the waning public faith and rekindle a hope of an improved political and governance system that is responsive to the needs of the people.
(Pokharel teaches Management and Liberal Arts at Whitehouse Graduate School of Management, New Baneswor, Kathmandu)