Nepali Times
Constitution Supplement
Wanted: leaders


The Himalmedia Opinion Poll carried out in April made it clear the Nepali people were not in favour of bandas, strikes or street revolts. But immediately afterwards the country was paralysed by the general strike called by the UCPN-Maoist. Readers may wonder what the use of such polls is in this case, but this interpretation is incomplete. Strikes are as much to mobilise party cadres as anything else, and the Maoist party has demonstrated that it has this capacity. However, the participation of people in the Basantpur peace assembly underlined the public's aversion to strikes.

Propaganda is part and parcel of political operation. But while the public may be influenced by such propaganda, and indeed by political events, public opinion is not the same as what is touted by political parties. Polls are a means to get to the heart of the matter.

Nationalism threatened or propaganda?

Three quarters of the 5,005 polled felt that Nepali nationalism and its territorial integrity was under threat due mainly to the conflict within and among political parties. It is clear party propaganda has played a role in shaping public perceptions. There hasn't really been serious discussion about Nepali nationalism.

The idea of a people-centred nationalism only entered Nepal following the 1951 revolution, but within a decade, King Mahendra twisted the discourse so political parties and democracy became equated with the threat of India to Nepali nationalism. In this, Nepali communists have proven to be at one with the royalists. This equation was only strengthened over the course of the 30-year Panchayat regime, and was used against the Nepali Congress. The public perception that Nepali nationalism is under threat is a legacy of the same. The political parties must move away from the limited understanding of nationalism as that manifest in street protests, and seek to develop a true nationalism.

People's party and political image

The poll also indicated that Nepal's political parties, including the Maoists, are in transition. This is generally viewed as a positive thing, but is this a sign of true transformation? One cannot hope that the Maoists will transform in the manner UML and NC would like them to. The Maoists have abandoned guns and organised violence while acknowledging multi-party competition, but this in itself is not transformation. It is clear that the Maoists' activities do not hold the same significance for all Nepalis. The Maoists present two contrasting images. One image projected is that of a party that believes in peaceful politics and seeks to uplift the voiceless and the poor. The other is that of a party that believes in violence and the principle of might is right. The public perception of the party is therefore conflicting, and proves that the transition within the party has reached the people. Such a transition can take a long time for a revolutionary communist party, but if this is to be achieved, the party must gradually become more accommodating.

The people rate the Maoists ahead of other parties, though in terms of a good, responsible party, NC is still in the lead. But the lack of support for the latter's leadership indicates that the public values the party's commitment to democracy more than anything else. In any case, the Maoists, NC and UML are still considered the most important political parties. The Madhes-based parties have limited support, even in the Tarai, and are more likely to be involved in the power equations of larger parties than lead national politics themselves.

It is clear that there is a leadership void. When over 5000 respondents were asked to name the leader they most trusted to lead Nepal towards peace, prosperity and democracy, 60 names were thrown up, but all garnered less than 21 per cent of the total votes. This proves there are many politicians, but few who are considered worthy. Maoist leaders Pushpa Kamal Dahal (20.2%) and Baburam Bhattarai (14.7%) may be far ahead of the others, and the party will be happy these two have earned some degree of public trust, but even they don't have much support overall and only 7 Maoist leaders in all make the list.

However, the poll clearly shows up the divided nature of Nepali Congress and UML. Congress leader Sher Bahadur Deuba leads his rivals (6.3%) but with very little overall support, while Sushil Koirala, Ram Chandra Paudel and Gagan Thapa trail him with about the same level of support (<2%). Eighteen Congress leaders make the list, but the votes they received in sum are less than either that received by Pushpa Kamal Dahal or Baburam Bhattarai. It is clear Nepali Congress has to consider the weakness of its leadership, but it appears that there is no more room for family dynasties within the party.

One would think UML would not have a similar problem, having elected new leadership a year ago. The poll exposes the fact that UML continues to be divided. Madhav Nepal still has the strongest support (6.4%), and party president Jhalnath Khanal follows, but with much less support (1.9%). Here, too, 18 leaders make the list, but the total votes received is less than that of the NC leaders.

Poll are not definitive, but they have the capacity to surprise and edify. Taken positively, they can guide political parties. If national politics improve in quality, then the whole nation will benefit.

Youth and instability

Sixty per cent of respondents were aged 18 to 40. And while they offered both negative and positive responses to the questions they faced, in sum their responses were on the negative side. It is a possibility that such negativity and the natural exuberance of youth could be used to destabilise Nepal, particularly in the face of poverty, unemployment, illiteracy and political conflict. Our political parties should be especially careful to mobilise the enthusiasm of Nepali youth in a responsible manner.

Letting go- By Prashant Jha
Less revolting - By Kiran Nepal
Relief and despair - Publisher's Note
Proximate breakthrough
Get the message across - By Ashutosh Tiwari

1. Arthur
"Three quarters of the 5,005 polled felt that Nepali nationalism and its territorial integrity was under threat due mainly to the conflict within and among political parties. It is clear party propaganda has played a role in shaping public perceptions. There hasn't really been serious discussion about Nepali nationalism."

This and the following paragraph assumes the popular belief is wrong and offers an explanation of why three quarters of those polled got it wrong.

But everyone knows the current government was is organized and is still strongly supported by India. It would be strange if a large majority were not concerned that national independence is under threat.

A similar bias is shown throughout the article. Everything either confirms the worldview of Nepali Times or is surprising and has to be explained away.

There is still no link to a report with full details of the poll.

2. pukar bam

lets try baburam, a highly learned and far sighted man to lead our nation. we have tried all other and none of them turned to be our real leader. all cheated us. lets encourage youth leaders like gagan thapa to lead as well.

st. xavie's college, kathmandu

3. Sargam
That chubby guy standing on the extreme left has the facial contour of a moujik of the Russian steps, like that of you know who, the 'Georgian stuff', the same bulging eyes of a gecko as if crawling on four legs, upside down under the ceiling.

 He sees everything from the awkward position of somebody like a cliffhanger.

Wake up, Comrade, we are in the 21st century!?!

4. Sameer
They all seemed to have some political knowledge in gaining power from the innocent, illiterate and poor majority of Nepalese populace, they all know how to make hollow promises to the public when they need the vote, they all might use all kind of hooks and crooks to get the power, and they all knows how to use thugs and goons to suppress people who are against their will! They are all same reddish from that very farm of narrow mindedness!

They need to change themselves first, before talking to change their family, after that they can talk of changing their neighbor and so forth they can talk of changing country as a whole! However, to be able to bring these real changes, these leaders need educate their mind and core of their heart for the welfare of Nepal and Nepalese!

Premise of the research is wrong. You should not ask people to chose out of four when none of them should be the leader. You must ask an open question like chose one citizen who may be a good leader for Nepal for both development and peace.
Pushe does wrong things for his gain and will push Nepal 50 yrs behind.  
Baburame is outdated, does wrong things and will push Nepal 25 yrs behind. 
Madhabe makes back door entry even if he losses elections and undermines the value of vote. But he is teaching if Nepalese do not use voting rights diligently, his morality will not stop him gaining power from back door entry. He will push Nepal behind for his term because his leadership is useful only to keep Maoist out of power.   
Shere will keep Nepal revolving around his chair no matter how many times you make him PM, does not have vision to develop Nepal but will not harm Nation like others do.  

Chose one from business or professional background who knows business, economy, World, and is honest in his thoughts and deeds. There are many to chose from. 

6. Daniel gajaraj
We have to train the majority of our political leadershipto understand the nuances of the modern world, rudimentary economics,development theory,entrepreneurship,prerequisites for succeeding in the global economy and cross-cultural negotiations. Integrity of thought requires education and data orientation. They say one thing when they are in the government andthe exact opposite when they are in the opposition.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)