Major Parties Must Keep United Face : Narayan Upadhyay
The air is now abuzz with talks of an imminent change in the government. The change is likely to take place according to a ‘gentleman's agreement' as per which the government led by Nepali Congress chair Sushil Koirala is to be replaced by the one led by the UML chair, KP Sharma Oli.
The formation of the Koirala-led government was done through an alliance of the Congress, UML and some fringe parties. The Koirala government had been formed with an overwhelming majority. Now, it is the turn of Oli to lead the new consensus government with the same support. This time around, the third largest party - the UCPN-Maoist - too is said to be lending its support to the formation of the new government.
However, the path to formation of the new government under Oli appears to be littered with difficulties. Oli has been declared as the party's sole prime ministerial candidate, but the Nepali Congress has exhibited its reluctance to hand over the mantle. The incumbent prime minister appears ill at ease in vacating his chair.
The Congress’ unwillingness plus other issues have made the formation of the new government tricky. Names of a few prime ministerial aspirants from within the Nepali Congress have been floated, while some national and international elements are not happy to see Oli as the head of the government.
Congressman Sher Bahadur Deuba is currently lobbying for his candidacy. Some are also raising the unlikely names of other Congress members such as Ram Chandra Poudel and Ram Sharan Mahat. No one can say for sure if these names have surfaced because the largest party - the Nepali Congress – wants to lead the future government or is a ploy to block the formation of the new government by a few weeks or months.
The present trouble in handing over the PM's baton to Oli has indeed threatened the unity between the NC and UML. Lately, the UCPN-Maoist chair, Pushpa Kamal Dahal, had exhibited an unexpected level of commitment to the constitution’s adoption and promulgation by lending his party's strong support to the NC and UML.
The promulgation of the constitution would not have been possible without the strong unity among these three parties, as there were elements and people that tried to block the constitution at every turn, the Madhesi parties being the main groups that sought to stop the adoption of the constitution with their different demands.
What is remarkable about this unexpected level of unity among the political parties having conflicting ideologies is that they were able to counter the unexpectedly enormous pressure from the southern neighbour that wanted the new constitution to be remodeled as per its wishes. The three parties have so far parried the Indian pressure only to face another huge pressure in the shape of an economic blockade from the southern giant trying to dictate its terms of Nepali politics through the Madhesi parties lately.
The Indian authorities want all the demands of the Madhesi parties included in the new constitution, including the one that would grant rights to all naturalised Nepali citizens to grab the higher constitutional posts such as those of president, prime minister, house speaker and others. After the major three parties turned down the Indian offer, they were greeted with an undeclared blockade, imposed with a clear motive to choke the economy of the poor, tiny Nepal.
The agitating Madhesi parties and India probably thought that this would bring the coalition government to its knees as a shortage of essentials within Nepal would create enormous pressure on the government and political dispensation. The saving grace has been the patience of the Nepalese masses.
But the burning question of the present hour is, how long will Nepal be able to withstand the Indian pressure? Given the habits of the Nepali politicos, it sometimes appears that the nation would sooner than later capitulate before such pressure. And there are elements who are constantly seeking the blessings of the southern giant for bagging lucrative as well as higher constitutional posts, often weakening the Nepali position.
It is depressing to note that many leaders within the ruling parties have yet to utter a single word against the unofficial blockade by the Indian side. Whenever they are asked about the crippling blockade, they look in the other direction while some state downright that they have no knowledge about such a blockade. This situation shows that India has indeed wielded domination among our leaders.
What irks the common Nepali with nationalist fervors is that there are many leaders who have often shown strong inclination to throw all kinds of unity among the political parties to the wind whenever they are in the vicinity of gaining some lucrative position with the blessing coming from the south. Our leaders often make a dash to India to win the southern giant's support whenever they find themselves in trouble or are close to winning some positions.
Many fear that the present unity among the three major parties may go haywire if the politicos within the three parties fight for the prime ministerial position and ministerial positions in the new government. It will certainly weaken them against the ever rising pressure from the south. In case the unity among the three is broken, then there will be many leaders who would be dancing to the Indian tunes.
This is a grave time for Nepal as its closest neighbour, India, has overtly been resorting to various means to put pressure on the Nepali state to accept its diktat without paying much consideration to the sovereignty of the tiny nation. The only thing that would fend off any kind of pressure from any nation, no matter how strong and powerful, is indeed the strong voice against such pressure from the overwhelming majority of the Nepali people. That voice from the Nepali people can be evoked only when the three major parties that enjoy strong support from the massive Nepali population remain united against any eventuality.
Since the Indian pressure is aimed at weakening the nation and people's dignity and self-esteem, the three major parties must keep their united face intact for long without deviating from such a united stance. They must not quarrel over the posts and positions and pay maximum heed to protect the nation's dignity at whatever cost.