Nepali Times Asian Paints
Guest Column
An open letter to the Big Guys


Dear BIG Comrades,

We, the young MPs of the country, have grave concerns about the continuing deadlock, as the parties have not been able to agree on a new prime minister, delaying constitution writing and the peace process. We have been meeting to discuss these crucial national issues for the last several months. Unfortunately, some of the big parties have suggested or even instructed their young MPs not to participate in such meetings.

We started meetings of young MPs in good faith for a number of reasons. First, we are concerned about how senior leaders control the Constituent Assembly and parliamentary system so that nothing remains transparent or participatory. We, the young MPs, want to know about, participate and be heard in the constitution-making process, the peace process and parliamentary business. Second, the meetings of young MPs are not just for young MPs but for the whole Constituent Assembly and parliament. We believe we can bring the voice and mandate of young Nepalis to the Constituent Assembly and parliament. Third, we believe we can help narrow the differences between the big parties' big leaders. Fourth, it is our right to participate in the decision-making process in the Constituent Assembly and parliament. This right has been taken away from us by the unfortunate and undemocratic practices of decision making in the Constituent Assembly and parliament. Fifth, we, the young MPs, will be working together in the future and this is the time for us to learn how to cooperate to build the nation.

Respected big leaders, the dialogue amongst young MPs is not against you nor is it against the people and country. I would like to ask you to be considerate and support the young MPs, to participate in such meetings, and please, to not issue party whips against attending such meetings. We would also like to call for your support to empower the younger generation, and to start having faith in us. Today's young people, including the young MPs, are knowledgeable, understand the world and know what the country's needs are and what the people of Nepal want.
Thank you very much for your anticipated cooperation.

It is also high time for us, as young MPs, to be brave and rise above the party line and party whip. It has not been easy for us to find a meaningful role in the Constituent Assembly and parliament, partly because many of us don't think 'outside the box'. Many of us are habituated to look up to the big leaders for decisions. It is unfortunate that somebody has to remind us: "you represent the Nepali people". We continue to be mute spectators when the big leaders decide on everything, including the fate of our country and our people, behind closed doors.

A whip is appointed to enforce party discipline, and secure the attendance of the members of a parliamentary party at any important session, especially when their votes are needed.

This is the universal understanding and practice of a whip, but Nepal is unique. We have not even raised concerns when the big extended the whip system up to Constituent Assembly matters by amending the Constituent Assembly operating regulations several months ago, without the knowledge of many MPs. Now, party whips are imposed on almost everything, including attending meetings, expressing one's opinion, or meeting different caucuses in parliament.

I have heard that in the German Bundestag, there is no whip system, even for parliamentary matters.

How long can we afford to remain mute and quietly encourage these big leaders to continue with such feudal exercises, where nothing is transparent and nothing is participatory? The country is paying the price, the people are paying the price, and all the MPs, including the big leaders, will pay the price once they have to go back to the people.

The country is in deep trouble but it's not too late.�The big leaders need to get their act together, as the Nepali people will forgive you your 100 mistakes if you do a single good thing now.

The young MPs need to organise and make efforts to get the country back into shape. Equally civil society, the media, NGOs, and civil servants need to support the peace and constitution-writing processes. A mutual forum between young MPs, civil society and the media would be a good starting point.

Don't accept the situation as it is. Dream about what the situation could be â�" then help make it happen.Â�

Sunil B Pant is a member of the Constituent Assembly and Parliament.

It's getting stale, mate, PRASHANT JHA
In a state of deprivation, PUBLISHER'S NOTE
Women MPs seek to unlock deadlock, RUBEENA MAHATO

1. Great!

Very glad to hear about this meeting of young MPs who want to get things done, more power to you. It is unfortunate that the bigwigs want to shut you down - but do keep at it. And please tell us more about your initiatives and ideas. If you are prevented from bringing them to the CA table - maybe they can come to us straight through channels like these so we can have constructive discussion. If nothing else, it will give us all some hope for our futures. 

2. rambhakta shrestha

Thank you Sunil Jee for letting us know that young MPs like yourself are also not enjoying the political stalemate the country is facing. But I am surprised to see that even the MPs are so powerless and voiceless when it comes to the party and so called "big" leaders. The fact that you have to come out of the parliament and write an open letter like this one to the "Big guys", shows the condition of democracy and parliament in our country. Even as an MP, you are saying that you cannot get your voice heard in the parliament, then we must be fools to believe that one day our leaders will hear the voice of general public.

As a tax payer, every Nepali has a right to ask all of the 601 MPs including yourself a question - What have you been doing for the last two years?? If you cannot get your voice across the parliament, If you cannot protest against the "Big Guys" for not letting you speak, within the parliament, If you cannot contribute whatsoever for making the constitution, then what is the point of being an MP and enjoying all the facilities paid through the tax payers money ???

Yes we understand your helplessness when being tossed around by the "Big Guys". But then don't you think it is also the lack of leadership in the "young" leaders like yourself not to be able to stand and protest against this kind of feudalistic behaviour?? In our eyes, it is your responsibility as well to contribute towards making constitution. From your letter it is clear that you and many young leaders have no role whatsoever even in the day to day activities of the parliament let alone making of the constitution.  Do you sometimes ask these questions to yourself before going to the bed - Am I the right person to be here in the first place?? If I am not strong enough even to stand against the things I do not like, am I good enough to be representing the society?? What is my duty in the first place??

We, the Nepali people, do not differentiate between the "young leaders" or the "big guys". For us, you are one of the 601 MPs that we put into the office to make a constitution for the country. That is what you are being paid for. If any of you believe that you are being unfair taking salary for the work you are not doing, you should be moral enough to quit!!!

Stop blaming the "big guys", for you are one of them in our perspective.

3. Satyajeet Nepali


(Given the type of top leadership we have, I doubt this gallant letter will amount to anything much. But it's a good step forward anyway - as long as you keep it up!)

4. Dr. manohar budhathoki
way to go Sunil jee!
It is encouraging to read this despite the petty politics of the senior politicians. The older generation in Nepal, in my opinion, lack the vision and wisdom that the newly worldly educated younger generation have (and i am not only talking of politicians here). This aspect of our society is merely reflected in the self-fulfilling politics of our older generation of leaders. The younger generation have their shortcomings, of course but only they can deliver in Nepal. OUT WITH THE OLD!

5. Subodh
Those who don't dare to listen criticism are mere coward feudal. party is a group of conscious and  curious persons assembled to build nation through alternative and advanced methodology. Then what is wrong when young MPs have not confronted the value and principles of respective parties? Those who do not have the courage to oppose diktat do not deserve to be leaders either elected or nominated. Shame to us that we have the leaders, more than that youths-band who do not have guts to fight for their identity based on their own party philosophy, instead they are bound to turn oneself like leader's doll.  

6. jange
Why not stand for election yourself if you think the current leadership is so bad?

7. newdeal
Isn't the writer nominated to the CA by Nepal Communist Party -  Marxist?

Why would Nepal Times not care to highlight this important fact?

8. raj joshi
Mr Young MP...

I don't know which party you belongs to. I love your idea, it would be even better if you put into action instead. Don't you think so?

9. Nirmal
I think some portion of fault goes to these YOUNGBIGS also. Survival of the fittest is the cruel reality of this world, everyone is struggling. The problem is not If they are old or young, the problem arises when gerontocracy takes its deep root in every socio-political activity. For its definition "gerontocracy" is a deficience not experience to follow. So, it is not any surprise that young and energetic ones are always behind the race.
Some kangresi youth neta desires "fusion" between youth and old, but this is an obfuscated concept and above all sounds maoists' mantra.
The non-stop imposition of party whip demonstrates how less confident these political parties are about their own internal debate. Only in absolute regime this happens. Now, I think it does not matter If there is a whip or not, as all of them are used to follow BIG comrades

Now, If you ask me whether youth and women in CA would play decisive role to ensure a functioning democracy in future, I would just say: I don't know seeing no tangible intervention that they could have offered there altogether all these two years of CA's tenure.

10. birendra

good.  good to know  that there are MP's that are doing something for the country.  it is our mistake that we constantly vote the same old over and over again who so blatantly misuse the given respect and responsibility. i personally feel we would be better off letting young leaders lead and the old retire.

11. Kishor rai

I like what sunil jee is saying, all should understand this and something should be done about this, the MPs should put Nation first and then the party. I hear women MPs comming together for the common goals, like wise younger generation MPs should also come together and take this bold step. Remember anything can happen in Nepal, we have seen it happen always ................

12. jange
It is also high time for us, as young MPs, to be brave and rise above the party line and party whip. It has not been easy for us to find a meaningful role in the Constituent Assembly and parliament, partly because many of us don't think 'outside the box'.

You were elected as a member of your party, not as an independent. Any role that you play will therefore be within the party on whose platform you were elected. That is the multiparty system which the 2045 andolan was all about. Do you want to change that?

What exactly is it that you want should happen?

13. Slarti
"Don't accept the situation as it is. Dream about what the situation could be – then help make it happen."

I also dream of setting up a talk shop and selling hot air. 

No point following rules, procedures, moving forward in a systematic way, establishing milestone, moving towards a specific goal. 

My shop would be full of a variety of fragrance - all in the realm of imagination. 

14. old one

Your article, as they say in the US, is a day late and a dollar short.

I think your article will serve you good in May 2011, when, with no constitution of any kind, at least you will be in a position to say: "Look, don't blame me. I tried everything. Even wrote an article in Nepali Times for which EU, DFID, US embassy, UNMIN, the Finns, the Norwegians all gave me a hearty syabashi. But what could I do when our respected party leaders chose not to listen? Blame them." 

I expect Gagan Thapa and others to carry on with the drumbeat and publish similar articles in the daily newspapers. This way, you young guys get the best of both worlds: you continue to lay your head at the feet of the "respected big leaders" while showing to the public that you too are losing impatience with all this political nonsense. Yeah, right! 

If you are so concerned, what's stopping you guys from filing a lawsuit against the decision-making process of your "respected big leaders" at the Supreme Court? Fight it out there. Let the chips fall where they may. If you have to make some powerful enemies while pursuing what's right for the public, make them. Let the media and the public be your allies. 

Do you have the courage of your convictions to do that? 

15. Anonymous
Dear Mr. M.P. Sunil Pant,
I very much agree with your critical stance. Yes, sadly enough Nepal's political leaders "big" or "small" inherited and adopted the very traits of feudalism against which Nepali people have been incessantly fighting against since 1950's. There is a fundamental and inherent problem in the character and culture in our so-called political "leadership". I am not blaming any single party or party leaders. There is an urgent need for cultural transformation within all political parties. If there is no intra-party democracy (openness and 'glasnost'), I very much doubt there will be participatory democracy in the political system. The traditional intelligentsia in Nepal is imprisoned in the by-gone era, it cannot see the world beyond the "left-over" of the colonial past in the sub-continent; sadly,  the so-called progressive intelligentsia listens too much to the voice from abroad! What we lack is a creative imagination and authentic voice both in politics and profession. The authenticity comes only when things are creatively applied, tested and evidence examined and critically reflected upon 'in-action' and 'on-action'; then only, one can reach a conclusion whether a policy, plan, or program works in the context of our society. Content without context is useless.Nepali people have the unprecedented opportunity to write the People's Constitution (yes, sovereign people's!) , for the first time, in modern history. It is high time to raise voice of dissent for openness from within the parties. The younger generation could play a significant role in this struggle. We, as young professionals, did the same in the 1990's People's Movement. Now, it is your generation's  turn to bear the torch high. Listen to the people and use your wisdom. I believe that Nepal is a great Nation, and her people are wise!

All the best!

16. Baburam
Even the student unions are controlled  by perpitual  leaders ,They  never relinquish their office. There is no age limitfor them. They enroll in the campuses just to use students for their party's interest.How old is Lekh Nath Newpane or the rests?

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)