The Avarice Of Power
The major political parties in Nepal are undergoing the process of alignment, consolidation and integration through merger, amalgamation and alliance building. The process of making of the Nepal Communist Party (NCP)- a by-product of the unification of the CPN(UML) and the Maoists- is reportedly being concluded finally through an allocation and assignment of responsibilities for party office bearers after a long drawn out haggling and tussling.
Likewise, integration process between the Naya Shakti Party and Sanghiya Samajbadi forum into Samajbadi Dal Nepal is also being consolidated through an amalgamation of its various organs and structures.
The problems of the Nepali political parties have been that they are personality driven and functionally very inefficient and ineffective. In fact the parties cannot afford to be efficient and effective because they have to engage in transaction oriented and intraparty dissent redressing functions all the time. The parties have to cater to and address diverse aspirations and ambitions of the party leaders and functionaries.
The transaction- orientation of the political parties is so cumbersome and complex that it throws spanner in the wheel of the parties to move and take decisions in an efficient and effective way. As a result, parties fail to rise to the occasion promptly and respond to the needs and challenges of the contemporary context.
Moreover, ideological principles and standards have almost gone waning during these days. Especially the communist parties that are known for hair-splitting debates and polemics seem not very lively and active in ideology definition and principled reflection. During the contemporary times the politics of opportunism, unprincipled coalition and alliances spearheaded by electoral cretinism has overwhelmed them.
The politics of convergence characterised by the diminution of ideological divide between Left and Right has also become the established norm of the political organisations. The idea of convergence is associated with growing intermarriage and connivance of the capitalist and socialist principles. It rests on the premise that the process of political and economic development is bound to follow the similar path both in capitalist and communist societies regardless of the ideological stridency and rhetoric. Related to this idea is the notion of a relatively fixed pattern of development through which both capitalist and socialist societies must pass as they modernise, industrialise and adopt the modern consumerist way of life.
There was a time in Nepal when differences between the Nepali Congress and the Communist parties had been projected and portrayed to be antagonistic both in terms of ideology and practice during the previous decades. But now the ideological pretensions of differences and antagonism has waned and almost come to naught.
It needs to be mentioned that inter-party antagonism and contradiction among the communist groups during the decades of fifties, sixties and seventies had been very explicit and articulate when the communist parties world over were divided and beholden to the then Soviet and the Chinese bloc. Those who tended to cast their weight behind the Soviet bloc were flayed as revisionist and reformist whereas the adherents of the Chinese camp claimed to be the real Marxist and progressive revolutionary.
After Deng assumed the political leadership in China during the Eighties, he introduced measures to transform the Chinese economy through pursuit of free market capitalist reforms. Deng pursued the pragmatic politics sending the rigour of ideology into oblivion. In Nepal too, the Maoists who had waged ten-year long armed conflict during the previous decades abandoned the path of violence and use of force that had provided the basis to fuel their struggle against the state. They have joined the mainstream democratic politics and managed to be part of ruling elite in the country.
Netra Bikram Chand led group – a splinter faction of the Maoists that has been fighting to continue with the legacy of now dissolved Maoist party is reportedly showing the overtures of peaceful reconciliation. Biblav group should have been prompted to sit for dialogue with the government upon careful assessment of the futility of armed conflict in the contemporary global and Nepali context when democratic convergence has been the order of the day, Moreover, a careful scanning of the documents of the several communist groups in Nepal indicate the sharp erosion in their ideological content. The pragmatic lure of power, consumerism and avarice has overwhelmed them. In fact, it was due to pragmatic consideration of the evolving political context in Nepal that the Maoist party led by Prachanda had merged into CPN(UML) to form Nepal Communist party two and half years ago. The incumbent communist government led by KP Sharma Oli, its leaders and ministers seem allegedly inclined to serve their interests at the cost of the people.
Similarly, moderate Nepali Congress party has also compromised on its principles and values to pursue short term gains and interests. It has cohabited time and again with right and left parties and political groups for usurping power that in no way are compatible and friendly to its long held views and perspectives. With the degeneration of politics and erosion of the value-based norms and principles, the leaders have lost their vision and turned, instead, to be shrewd managers, tactical players and game manipulators. The routine task of the leaders has boiled down to juggling with the day to day affairs of the party and keep one’s own position safe and secure. They are embroiled in tackling complaints and petty interests of their party functionaries and cadres.
The leaders squander their valuable time and resources to manage dissidence within the party. It is necessary that politics should be made innovative and transformative enough to nurture ideas and vision so that leaders could shun petty interests to accelerate the process of democratisation and development.
(Rijal, PhD, contributes regularly to TRN and writes on contemporary political, economic and governance issues)