Prof. Dr. Madan Kumar Dahal
Chairman, Mega Bank Nepal Ltd.
Kathmandu: August 30, 2012
The dissolution of Constituent Assembly (CA) at midnight on Sunday May 27, 2012 without promulgating constitution is evident of total failure of the government, political parties and leaders including the Chairman of CA attributing to growing inter and intra-party political wrangling, inefficiency, corruption, poor governance, and external intervention that created a void in political arena resulting in protracted transition engulfed by increasing risks and uncertainties in all spheres of the statecraft. Unfortunately, the parties and leaders are yet shy and reluctant to openly admit the blunder they committed to resulting in major political disaster never before in the history of Nepal and, for that matter, they are neither ashamed of nor apologetic to the people. The current political catastrophe shattered the hope of the common people aspiring for enjoying democracy, liberty and equality with republic order and jeopardized the prospects for economic development to live in dignity in Nepal.
The Fervor of National Consensus
The prevailing state of affairs could be described as: ‘State without government; Economy without budget and development; and Democracy without elections’. Since democracy and development are at the cross-roads in Nepal after the demise of CA, there is urgent need for developing a national consensus among political forces to break the impasse and pave the way to forge a national government instrumental in formulating the budget, promulgating constitution and, subsequently, holding election in not too distant future. In absence of a national consensus on major issues democracy would not sustain, economy would be in jeopardy, and nation would plunge into oblivion and people are likely to witness the untold misery and sufferings. It is, therefore, crucial that prolonged transition must come to an end with improving political condition through developing national consensus for formulating a consensus government and thereby ensuring new constitution compatible with the spirit of peoples’ aspirations for federal republic by holding a fresh election preferably at both national and local levels.
Treatment to Non-performance
This requires setting-up of a common agenda to decontaminate the politics through improving ethics and the moral values with immediate execution of two propositions. These are: (a) all former CA members should be disqualified for contesting election to represent at all levels; and (b) listed notorious corrupt political leaders and government officials (civil, judiciary, security services) including mafia (private sector, NGOs, INGOs) involved in fraudulent activities should be put under judicial trial for economic offences through Special Court at the initiation of Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA), the cut-off period for trial being Jan Andolan I (1990) and afterwards. This would purify the domain of politics and provide opportunities for a new, young, dynamic and honest leadership to emerge and guide the destiny of people and the nation.
The Political Debate
In a competitive politics under modern democracy political parties are the leading actors to safeguard the interest of the nation and common people ensuring peace, progress and prosperity in the country. Unfortunately, all most all the parties and leaders are terribly indulged in notorious game plan resulting in a series of split confined to grab the power, position and treasury without legal sanctity through fresh mandate from the people. Under the circumstances, the commoners have had great expectations that parties and the leaders in power during the last five years would work honestly with all humility for ensuring better future of Nepal and the Nepalese people particularly with the rise of Republican Order and the fall of autocracy in 2006. However, the outcome is extremely poignant and disgusting.
More recently, the Unified Maoist Party witnessed a big splinter with naked exposition of mounting financial indiscipline within the party and the fight over property accumulated by the party during and after the Jan Yuddha that lasted for a decade claiming the lives of more than 13,000 people. However, the split of Unified Maoist party is the fake or genuine it is still a matter of conjecture and it is too early to predict the future of breakaway party. The Nepali congress and UML parties are at the crossroads of increasing risks and uncertainties engulfed by conspicuously offending rivalry inside the parties leading towards defections and thereby self-liquidation. The Madhesbadi regional parties are virtually dismantled into several petty groups with strong domination of Kabila type leaders and their “one-man-apprenticeship” guided by malafied intention to quickly maximize kickbacks through abuse of powers. And, on the other hand, small parties are suffering from identity crisis. This is unfortunate that Adibashi and Janjatis have totally misunderstood the fundamental postulates of federalism that refer to devolution of political, economic, social, and cultural empowerment from the center to grassroots. In no case, federalism is the proposal for creating a state within the state confined to the command of specific ethnic groups and declaring the ruler to represent a particular community.
Obsessions of Political Parties
The political obsession of Maoist leaders to create a separate state for a few selected ethnic groups in a small country like Nepal is a dogma on the contrary to the spirit of the thesis propagated by Karl Marx that emphatically refers to class struggle and dictatorship of the proletariat. This kind of political blunder of Unified Maoist party has reduced its popularity to its lowest ebb especially after the accomplishment of 12-point agreements and Extensive Peace Accord among the political parties. The recently organized United Forum comprised of 21-parties headed by comrade Prachanda is another futile exercise targeted towards consolidating his political strength to stage a comeback in power that disrupted the prospects for timely emergence of national government.
A majority of the Madheshi parties and leaders represent affluent families and background and it is ridiculous about their claim to be the only messiah of downtrodden in the terai. They are rambling with false propaganda that Madhesh-terai is deprived of opportunities with conspicuous discrimination and utter exploitation by the rulers housed at Kathmandu. But the reality is just opposite. The available data exhibit that all most all industries are located at terai; the extent of poverty is low and employment opportunities and standard of living are high in terai; and infrastructure facilities such as highways, electricity, communications are undoubtedly far superior in terai compared to hills and mountains. In addition, terai is advantageously placed with easy access to India for trade and marketing with better opportunities to maximize the benefits from open border. Unfortunately, the so-called big political parties failed to counter the malicious agenda frequently campaigned by Madhesi leaders that they are treated as number two citizen with great humiliation and discrimination. On the contrary, one of the colleagues recently apprised me that leaders from his constituency in terai refused to accept his status that he belongs to and represent terai on the ground that his ancestors were hill originated, despite terai is his native birth place, where he holds parental property – the house and the land.
Oracle: Jagged Political Road
Politics is the game of impossibilities and, therefore, it is extremely strenuous to be precise and predict about the future course of politics in Nepal. The recent trends in the activities of political parties and the leaders followed by periodical agitations and bandh with increasing violence justify that major political forces are least interested in promulgating the new constitution for Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal. The sensitivity of Nepali people towards national integrity, sovereignty, peace, harmony, compassion, sense of belonging, and deep admiration among the communities is likely to detonate due to inefficiency, lack of farsightedness, and imprudent decision of the leaders resulting in unprecedented conflict and violence that might lead to dissolution of the country, if not urgently reconciled.
Surprisingly, the civil society members and human rights activists are in deep sleep, for their self-interest extremely collided; high level bureaucrats function like party workers; intellectuals and scholarly communities have remained docile and silent spectators and their personality is largely compressed to the pocket of political leaders; private sector is in oblivion and yet undecided to be specific about the priorities to expedite investments and determine the sector functions to be undertaken for providing services effectively to the people, and they are also busy in submitting memorandum to the government with a proposal for exemptions, deductions, rebates and concessions to escape from taxation; and security forces, of course, have no option but to abide by the instructions of the government.
If there would be no constitution within given time-frame, it might lead to seismic disaster resulting in growing corruption, anarchy and impunity. In addition, the BRB government is apprehensive of the judgment of the Supreme Court that often went against the interest of the government during many occasions. More surprisingly, Nepali Congress party known as champion of democracy and its leaders unanimously opposed to the verdict of the Supreme Court against Khum Bahadur Khadka, who is found guilty of corruption and sentenced to imprisonment with fines and penalty. This kind of political frustration of Nepali Congress and other parties is danger to protect the rule of law and sustain democracy with republic order in a country where the decision of the Supreme Court is openly challenged by political parties and the leaders. More recently, the major opposition parties lambasted against the BRB government for its strategic move to rule the country through a series of ordinances and stay in power indefinitely. This might lead to confrontation between the President and Prime Minister disrupting the natural course of political development in Nepal.
At this critical juncture, political parties, statecraft, economy, people and ultimately the entire nation are weak attributing to lack of unity and consensus among the political parties in absence of a visionary and determined leadership. All parties conspicuously suffer from the common but intractable syndrome comprised of inefficiency, corruption, poor governance, anarchy, impunity, nepotism, favoritism, and excessive dependence on external forces to sustain in power with continuity.
The ruling United Maoist party has been encouraging anarchy and impunity by protecting high level party workers including former CA members who were declared criminals and punished by the Supreme Court with life term imprisonment and confiscation of property. The corruption charges against the top leadership of the United Maoist party alleged by the party workers during recently held extended session is indicative of why Maoist party is least interested to commence the trial against corrupt politicians and bureaucrats. The selected former CA members representing mostly Madheshbadi parties including a few politicians belonging to UML and Congress parties have also been put behind the bar, for the crime that they sold their VIP red-passports at Rs. 10.5 million. No party is exception to corruption and the list is very long. Therefore, corruption has been a common phenomenon and lubrication to sustain politics, which is infused in every blood of public figures. The latest reports published by International Watch Dog, Transparency International, and Office of the Auditor General (OAG/GON, 2011) are testimony of Nepal being identified as top-most corrupt country in South Asia.
This calls for ICU treatment to avert untoward catastrophe beyond imagination including the rise of dictatorship. And, therefore, there is need for ensuring: (a) emergence of an independent inclusive government based on consensus within two-three weeks from now; (b) election for parliament to be held within a year for not exceeding 240 seats; (c) formation of a high level Commission headed by an eminent jurist to formulate the constitution to be endorsed by the parliament; and, (d) the Prime-Minister and ministers-designate in the consensus government shall not be eligible to contest forthcoming election for parliament ensuring free and fair election. If this is not going to happen in due course of time, the Archimedes principle “Water finds its own level” is likely to follow. Under the circumstances, Nepali politics is left with following options to prevail as envisaged below:
(1) Option I: Emergence of a consensus government within a short span of next two-three weeks to ensuring forthcoming election for parliament and promulgating the constitution for Federal Democratic Republic Order within a year;
(2) Option II: Formation of an independent civilian government representing all segments of society at the initiation of Rt. Hon’ble President at the capacity of custodian of the Interim Constitution and in wider consultation with all political forces with particular assignment to hold election for parliament and promulgate the constitution in conformity with the aspirations of common people within a year, in case of failure of option 1;
(3) Option III: Creation of a puppet government with joint support of external powers and Nepal Army, in case of failure of option 2; and
(4) Breakdown of law and order with alarmingly growing anarchy, impunity, bloodshed, violence, and civil war leading towards a failure state, in case of collapse of all options mentioned above.
Although pro-monarchy forces have gained momentum in recent times attributing to negative performance of both ruling and opposition parties, return of monarchy as spelled out enthusiastically by some quarters is virtually impossible even with external back-up. National consensus is not at sight due to ugly but never ending rivalry to capture the power between ruling and the opposition parties and, therefore, new constitution is not a priority for them. The role played by Western donor communities is highly objectionable in recent years especially after 2006 that totally spoiled ethnic communities to instigate the demand for a separate state for a few ethnic groups without considering its severe consequences leading to cessation of the nationhood. The gesture of neighboring countries towards restoring peace and stability through promulgating new constitution of Federal Republic Order in Nepal is obviously encapsulated by “wait and see” diplomacy under the pretext that it is internal affairs of Nepal. However, the political legacy that proximity factor works effectively is under close scrutiny at this critical juncture and, therefore, both economically giant neighbors are indifferent to play the active role for sustaining stability and development in Nepal.
In addition, the contemporary Nepali politics is circumscribed by enormous formidable difficulties and challenges. The constitutional organizations especially the Election Commission (EC) responsible to hold election will fall vacant without authorities soon, and same is the fate with two important organizations such as CIAA and OAG in which high level positions are lying idle for a long time. This is shocking that incumbent Prime minister’s attitude is not only stubborn but also arrogantly declared that he would not step down until the emergence of next government through election. At the moment, opposition parties and leaders have no strength to galvanize consensus and they are desperately waiting the days for their revival in power at the mercy of President. Rt. Hon’ble President Dr. Ram Baran Yadav is the solitary custodian of the Interim Constitution with limited power to exercise and he commands a high esteem from all walks of life. Similarly, the Supreme Court (SC) and Commission for the Investigation of the Abuse of Authority (CIAA) have shown great courage to act boldly in recent times against corruption, injustice and despotism. In addition, the role of Nepal Army is highly appreciating for its neutrality in the past and to-day.
The acid test of political parties and the leaders is approaching fast to prove their efficiency and farsightedness with existing knowledge and wisdom for ensuring durable peace and stability and sustaining democracy with new constitution through timely election in Nepal. Hope the leaders will not commit blunder again to behave like Roman Emperor Nero who lost his empire due to excessive leaning towards extravaganza while Rome was burning before his eyes.
The author is also the advisor of Nepal Nagrik Manch. He can be reached at email@example.com