The major political parties in Nepal are tangled in the whirlpool of paradox. While they are undergoing the process of alignment, consolidation and integration through merger, they are also caught in contradictions. On the one hand, the parties have to be very efficient, effective and transformative in terms of building and expanding organisation by chalking out strategies and making decisions to respond to the fast changing political context and environment in the country. On the other, they cannot afford to be efficient and effective because they have to engage in transactional activities in managing and addressing diverse aspirations and conflicting interests within the parties.
The transactional process is so entangling and time consuming that it tends to handicap the parties to take decisions in a swift and effective manner to rise to the occasion and respond to the challenges of the context. Moreover, over the years, ideological debates and deliberations have almost gone waning in the political parties. The communist parties that are congenitally known for hair-splitting debates and polemics seem not very lively and active in terms of party strategy debates and ideology based reflections.
The demise of the Soviet Union that had once ruled the roost of the Marxist-Leninist politics resulted into the crumbling of the communist ideological edifice and infrastructures. The relevance of the fundamentals of the Marxist–Leninist ideology itself in practical life has been questioned and negated. Indeed, the fall of Soviet communism did render the communist parties not only in Nepal but also in other parts of the world stripped off the arsenals applied and used to engage in debates and polemics. The decades of Fifties, Sixties and Seventies were the days when the communist parties world over were divided and beholden to the then Soviet and the Chinese camp. Those who tended to side and cast their weight behind the Soviet camp were labelled as revisionist and reformist whereas the Chinese ideology was considered more fiery, revolutionary and radical appropriate to guide the context of the semi-feudal and semi-colonial context.
After Deng assumed the political leadership in China during the 1980s, he introduced measures to transform the Chinese economy through pursuit of the free market based capitalist reforms abandoning the ideological stridency and rigidity that was the strength and rallying point of the Mao era. Deng pursued the pragmatic politics sending the rigor of ideology into oblivion. That had huge and far reaching impact on the international communist movement. In Nepal even the Maoists who had waged ten year long armed conflict during the previous decades abandoned the Marxist- Leninist and Mao-tsetung thought based rhetorics and phraseology. The Maoists opted for and immersed themselves in the applied utility based politics characterised by the hurly burly of power mongering and manipulation.
The Maoists had been split into several splinter groups representing the spectrum of right and left deviation. Lately former Maoist ideologue Babu Ram’s Naya Shakti Party that has now integrated with Upendra Led Sanghiya Samajbadi Party to reincarnate into Samajbadi party offers the case of his total disillusionment and departure from the communist ideology both in letter and spirit. Biplab’s Maoist group has been fighting for preservation of the legacy of left communism Moreover, a careful scanning of the documents of the communist parties
Indicate the sharp erosion in the ideological content. The pragmatic lure of power, consumerism and greed has overwhelmed them. Finally, the Maoist party led by Prachanda merged into CPN (UML) to form Nepal Communist party one and half years ago thus more or less dissolving the vestige of the Maoist ideology based politics in the country with the exception of Biplab’s group.
The incumbent communist government led by KP Sharma Oli, leaders and ministers seem focused to maintain and carry on the intriguing politics and vintage practices that tend to benefit the individual leaders and party cadres in lieu of the broader masses and people. The tendencies of the leaders are frustrating and disconcerting. They get allegedly indulged to make misuse of their official position for individual gains. Similarly moderate Nepali Congress party has also compromised on its principles and values. It has cohabited time and again with right and left parties and political groups for power that in no way are friendly to its long held views and perspectives.
With the degeneration of politics and denudation of the value-based ideology and principles, the leaders have turned to be shrewd managers, tacticians and game manipulators. The routine task of the leaders has been reduced to juggling with the day to day affairs of the party affairs. They are embroiled in tackling the complaints and petty interests of their party functionaries and cadres. The leaders squander their valuable time and resources to manage the dissension and dissidence within the party. As there is of course the pressing need to manage and stitch together the intraparty dissension and differences , it is equally necessary and important to maintain and enhance working relationships and collaboration with other political parties that hold the major stakes in the national politics.
The business of the national politics should rise above the transaction-oriented manipulative game. The politics should be made innovative and transformative enough to nurture and enhance ideas and vision for democratisation and development of the country. Transformative democratic ideas and strategies would uphold the rationale and relevance of the politics, political parties and leaders in the country.
(Rijal, PhD, contributes regularly to TRN and writes on contemporary political, economic and governance issues)