Ram Kumar Dahal, PhD
Department of Rural Development, Tribhuwan University, Nepal
The institutionalization of democratic polity, maintenance of political stability and the promotion of democratic political culture and good governance, and, in general, the success and failure of any nation largely depends on political leadership. In democratic countries, political leadership becomes a subject of prime importance, and performs a number of important functions, including the development and promotion of independent international personality and image in the comity of nations. The visionary leadership also plays significant role in making foreign policy and diplomacy dynamic and also making the nation’s bilateral relations with nations of the world energetic. The role of political leadership, as Mclean (1996:277-79) views, identifies leadership as a “principal executive officer.” Leadership is associated with “responsibility.” Political leadership has to act as different roles and responsibilities including acting as people have elected representatives, as public policy and political decision makers, “regulator”, policy reviewers, and “networker.” The political leadership plays crucial role in leading the nation and the people towards constructive activities. The charismatic leadership contributes, in leading the nation, determining the goals, objectives, priorities and national interests, acting as linkage between the people and the government in one hand and political parties and the government on the other. In this direction, he has also to co-ordinate among various organs/agencies of government; representation of the sovereign people and regions; motivating their cadres/supporters, sympathizers, well-wishers and ticket holders.
The central and rural leadership can contribute much for the development of rural areas encouraging development activity, formulation of local plans and project, and their implementation, income generation activity, rural industrialization, rural electrification and rural urbanization. The rural leadership in rural Nepal has also acted as change agent in society and contributes in the identification of local needs and problems and making several attempts to solve them locally. The local leadership has played significant role in local development by performing a number of activities making the people conscious about human and fundamental rights (rights of the human beings in general and the constitutional and legal rights and international instruments of human rights of which Nepal is a party), economic and political activities and trends in their own country and in the globe and in their own rural areas. The local leadership has also to encourage the feeling of nationalism, patriotism and attract the local population in local developmental activities. The local leadership has also to play significant role in making their areas (e.g. VDCs) economically self reliant and self sustained and contribute to the proper utilization of locally available resources undertaking several activities for the upliftment of the people in their areas including alleviating poverty through income generating schemes. Local leadership plays effective role in development activities by the formulation and implementation of local plans and project and encouraging income generation activities for rural industrialization, rural electrification, and rural urbanization. The local leadership can act as change agent in traditional society by introducing timely and peaceful reforms. Local leadership plays important role in local development by:
Making the people conscious about the human rights/fundamental rights,
ć Making them aware about the current political trends, the economic development trends of the world, region, country and the villages and lead them accordingly,
Making people patriotic and lead them towards national development.
Advocating the human rights of the marginalized, powerless, voiceless and underrepresented, rights of the groups scheduled castes including Dalits, Adibasis, Janajaties (indigenous nationalities) and other constitutional rights and the upliftment of the life standard of the rural population alleviation of poverty through income generating means and ends are some of the measures of rural development.
Trends, characteristics and types of political leadership in Nepal
Trends, and distinctive characteristics of the political leadership in Nepal: The political leadership in Nepal has distinctive characteristics in different periods of history. The Nepalese leadership reflects the Nepalese society involving in inter and inter party conflicts and in petty issues unnecessarily. It has made them difficult to rise above petty interests and enter in the new global politics. The seasoned political leadership or the charismatic leadership, can never compromise with the national interests, objectives and goals and the interests of foreign policy, whatever political ideology they have. But the present day Nepal has not experienced such leadership. Nepal has experienced weak leadership or is characterized by complete failure of leadership even in the period of inclusive democracy. The Nepal ruling elites and leadership have demonstrated political immaturity in accepting populist slogans and sometimes even by signing such agreements which cannot be implemented into practice. In some cases, the political parties have moved ahead from the society and have failed to act according to the sprit and sentiment of the people. The political leaders are often found guided by revenge politics backed up by the criminals and armed youth groups. The existing nexus between the politicians and criminals have practically encouraged the political protection of crimes, criminalization of politics and politicization of crimes. The gap between what the ruling and political elites in Nepal preached and what they do has also create controversies in Nepalese politics in several ways. The emergence of a new luxurious class or group (enjoying privileges and even guided by personal vested interests) among the central leadership, particularly after their party remain in power for a certain period of time, and their less political accountability to the voters who had elected them and similar other trends have also raised the issues of their credibility and honesty in politics. The political leadership in post 1995 and more specifically in post 2006 days has started a new trend of encouraging militant tendency inside the parties and relying on bullets than on ballots by heavily relying on armed youth groups in the name of competition among the principal political parties and creating balance in domestic politics. Respecting the trends created by the principal political parties, other political parties have also started forming/ strengthening such groups, encouraging militant tendency inside the parties, thus encouraging a dangerous trend for democracy and intensifying violence and distrust in politics. The Nepal leadership, instead of having long term vision, is trying to get immediate gains (e.g. to get elected in election by hook or by crook or to serve their election needs and acting accordingly as if the election is going to be held the next day). They are blindly following or running after the mob and their demands, behind their demonstration and oppositional politics, practically establishing mobocracy in Nepal. The Nepalese leadership and their vision also differ on the basis of whether they were / are brought up in Nepal or outside Nepal. The bureaucratic and authoritarian leadership and similar political culture still prevail in the country in different forms and nature. In post 2006 days, the leadership of the liberal democratic parties, in most cases, have preferred to be vague than opposing the issues of the people (e.g. federalism, state restructuring the liberal democracy) and. have adopted the radical agenda of the Maoists simply due to electoral purposes , so that they would not be ahead to them.
The radical communists claim that they have struggled hard, contributed a lot for the sake of the people and comparatively had suffered much in politics including the determination of their head tag ( tauko koo mulyo tokiyo).The liberal democrats and soft-line communists claim that their contribution in politics is no less important than the radical communists. But the political parties in post 2006 days, in spite of their strong dedication, sacrifice and contribution in politics, have become result oriented running after immediate gain or intending to cash their contribution into immediate personal benefits and gains. Moreover, instead of value-based politics, they have practically become populist and preferred mass based politics (e.g. demonstrating the mass as its political strength) supporting actively the populist or propagandist agendas. It has virtually caused the erosion of political ideology among political parties in Nepali politics.