Nepal: Political Bankruptcy and Things to Come

Nepal is geared for the municipal elections scheduled for February 8, 2006. But the political developments unfolding in the run-up to the civic polls underscore the political bankruptcy on the part of the grouping of seven agitating political parties. Going by the latest utterances of the top bosses of the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML, the two major constituents of the grouping of seven agitating political parties, it is evident that the people are being thrust into yet another round of political volatility.

At a time when the people are longing for lasting peace and representational form of governance, and the state is moving towards that very direction through the medium of elections, the so-called big national parties are poised for scuttling the election process by hook and crook. This in itself speaks volumes on the attitude of these political organisations towards the professed goals of strengthening democracy and establishing durable peace in the country.

The latest political slogan coming from Nepali Congress president G P Koirala and the CPN-UML general secretary M K Nepal is boycotting the forthcoming municipal elections. Now, this is rather ironical that the top leaders of the political parties which talk of establishing what they call ‘total democracy’ should take recourse to undemocratic means. To contest or not to contest the elections is one’s prerogative. But for the democratic parties to talk tough and warn of scuttling the election process and, thereby, prevent the people from exercising their fundamental democratic is farcical.

In this way, the major national political parties, which claim to be the vanguards of democracy in the country, seem to be adopting the line similar to the one taken by the Maoist rebels, whose only goal hitherto has been to destroy parliamentary democracy and establish one-party dictatorship. The right thing for these political parties would have been to take part in the elections and prove their democratic credentials. By talking of boycotting the elections, these parties have once again demonstrated their political bankruptcy.

Take for instance what the CPN-UML general said while addressing a political rally in Nepalgunj on Saturday. He is on record as saying, “Political parties would win half the battle once the parties disrupt the municipal polls.” What is the message to derive from this statement? This amply shows that the goal of the agitating seven political parties is to create further trouble for the people.

Meanwhile, talking to journalists at a press meet organised in his home town of Biratnagar on Sunday, the Nepali Congress president was quoted by newspapers as saying: “Without a plausible atmosphere, we can’t ask the Maoists to extend their ceasefire. If the King announces cancellation of the polls, it prepares the ground for us to ask the Maoists in this regard.”

This is a ludicrous point for a seasoned politician to make. It may be germane here to recall that Koirala had termed the 12-point understanding said to have been reached between the seven agitating parties and the Maoists as a path-breaking document and that the Maoists had announced a unilateral ceasefire at their behest.

Now the Maoists have already come out with a statement pronouncing their real intention of sabotaging the polls and warning of ‘special action’ against the candidates and the voters. It is clear that their intention is to disrupt the political process by resorting to violence and terrorism as they have done before. The constituents of the seven political parties that bragged of convincing the Maoists to take to democratic means have to live up to their words. The leaders of the seven agitating political parties who were making tall claims that the Maoists had announced the unilateral ceasefire at their request should now convince their Maoist allies to extend the ceasefire which is coming to an end after a week or so if they are really concerned about establishing lasting peace in the country.

At the same programme, the Nepali Congress supremo said that the political parties are walking the razor’s edge in reference to the dilemma they are in. He is again quoted in the media as saying, “If Maoists did not extend the cease-fire, it would invite problems; and if they extend it, the King would hold the municipal polls. So we are at the sword’s edge.” Rightly so. And it is high time the agitating political parties reckoned the ground realities of the country and took the right decision at the right time in the interest of the country and democracy instead of becoming part of the problem.