Nepali Times
ASHUTOSH TIWARI
Strictly Business
Succession issues


ASHUTOSH TIWARI


It was the late Girija Prasad Koirala who nurtured the political careers of Sher Bahadur Deuba, Ram Chandra Poudel and Sushil Koirala from the '60s through the '90s. As Nepali Congress sails into its post-GPK phase, these three are now vying to be the chairman of the party, and newspaper reports indicate the inevitable bickering has already begun.

One does not attend meetings called by the others, and each loudly proclaims his own list of sacrifices for and contributions to the party. To be sure, this spectacle was to be expected, in part because GPK, in a prestige-denting move to bolster his daughter's political career, did not work hard enough to institutionalise a system to manage proper succession plans.

Choosing a party leader based on bygone sacrifices, struggles and contributions might have served Nepali politics well in another era. In today's politically competitive times, what if such measures are too inward-looking and outdated to choose a party leader? What if traits and skills such as an ability to position the party, an ability to understand and work around external change agents, and an ability to work collaboratively to focus on national priorities matter more in the selection of the new leader?

Positioning: In most voters' minds, Nepali Congress comes across not as a clear entity, but as a lumpen blob. Given this unclear positioning, how will the new leader clearly place Nepali Congress in the voters' minds? Will it be a party still wringing its hands between socialist policies and a competitive market economy?

How will it defend the tenets of pluralism and multi-party values so that transfers of power continue to take place peacefully through the observance of democratic norms? The party is seen as a boring old doddering Bahun men-led party that has lost steam. How will the new leader present the party to the young, especially those 35 or younger who may not have recollections of Jana Andolan I? These young Nepalis add up to 20 million, which is to say, they make up 72 per cent of the population not a group to be ignored.

External change: With a restless and growing young population, unemployment remains a big headache. Sending hundreds of able-bodied young Nepalis to the Gulf for menial work every day is not a permanent solution. Nor is providing government jobs to party cadres a long-term way out. What plans does the new leader have to start addressing the issue of unemployment? More and more Nepalis are now migrating to small towns and cities for education and jobs. How will the new leader help restore the instruments of local government so that responsive governance starts to take root at the local level?

Nepal needs both 'hard' (building roads, upgrading electric grids, etc) and 'soft' (improving gender parity, providing universal access to water and sanitation, etc) forms of development. How will the new leader articulate and sell Nepal's development needs to international aid agencies and international investors? China and India are fast becoming global economic success stories. How can Nepal, sandwiched in the middle, benefit from their boom?

Priorities: The immediate priority is to ensure that the constitution is drafted in time so that the pall of uncertainty hanging over the country's future is lifted. The longer the delay, the more uncertainty saps energy and resources. Does the new leader have the ability to focus on what matters, and bring all squabbling political parties together to rally around commonly accepted national goals that benefit Nepal's future?

Going through the pangs of critical transition, it's tempting for Nepali Congress or any other political party to seek solace in embracing its own history. But such an approach is ultimately short-lived and self-defeating. What the party must do in today's politically competitive times is to look ahead, ask questions about the future, and choose leadership based on who represents the most viable prospects for the party, regardless of that person's past sacrifices and contributions.



1. Arthur
Ok for "strictly business" reasons, it is natural that Nepal's tiny business class, along with the legal profession and others close to it, historically identified with Congress.

But what on earth is the point of this article? There is obviously no possibility whatever of Congress meeting the criteria set out clearly enough in the article. But instead of drawing that simple conclusion, the article ends by telling Congress it "must" do what it so obviously cannot do.

For the same reasons that they historically identified with Congress Nepal's bourgeoisie obviously needs a new centre right party committed to the sort of "competitive market economy" they naturally support. Such a party will obviously start small and only have a minority voice, but it will be well financed and draw on support of the dominant parties in other countries.

Clinging to a discredited and collapsing corrupt party of feudalism and bureaucrat capital means failing to accept the space left open for bourgeois parties in the future new Nepal.


2. Nirmal
Tiwarjii soon we are going to have neo-proletariats similar to neo-burgeoise, forget the NC and the UML, they are in decadence, the ones who are champions in bhid-bhedatantra(with translation: crowd-lambcracy) , let's say chalanchaltika -seasonal- netas but after taking out one or two exceptional cases, their lax on professional atributs in governing matters is omnipresent, and moreover, is funtioning with a brass alike oligarchic family, it is none other than the Maoists barons. In Nepal, it is easy to gather bhid and convert them into vendo(agressive attitude of lambs). Almost every one has done in our democracy and in history. So better the Maoists don't feel overproudy of this bhid, bhiid jatapani laagna sakchha(the crowd of lambs can have dispersed direction given a forced movement expectedly or unexpectedly), one just needs a balanced and civilised approach to utilise it properly.


3. Thurpunsich
I think a political party does not need and should not have a succession plan for somebody to automatically succeed a deceased leader. The only plan that is needed is an election for party president. The election should be as broad-based as possible; i.e., it should not only be confined within the top-level committees but should start at the local bodies of the party organization. The challenge for a party president aspirant is to prove himself or herself in terms of three things: vision for the party and country (i.e., policy), competency (i.e., organizational skill and ability to lead) and character (i.e., untainted).

I think it is now time for Nepali Congress to start setting itself apart from other political parties and practice what it preaches: Democracy. It should democratize the party first, then talk about democratizing the country. A party that still sticks to the old practice of distributing election tickets to the chosen and favored ones to stand in general elections should quit pretending that it is a democratic party. Such party is an elitist party in all but name; because the practice of selecting candidates instead of electing them (through primary intra-party elections) is a party that is out of touch with the ground realities and aspirations.

None of the three aspirants listed by the writer (Deuba, Paudel and Koirala) are any different from the other two. There differences with each other are only of degree, not of vision, competency or character.

Oohi,
Thurpunsich


4. Thurpunsich
I think a political party does not need and should not have a succession plan for somebody to automatically succeed a deceased leader. The only plan that is needed is an election for party president. The election should be as broad-based as possible; i.e., it should not only be confined within the top-level committees but should start at the local bodies of the party organization. The challenge for a party president aspirant is to prove himself or herself in terms of three things: vision for the party and country (i.e., policy), competency (i.e., organizational skill and ability to lead) and character (i.e., untainted).

I think it is now time for Nepali Congress to start setting itself apart from other political parties and practice what it preaches: Democracy. It should democratize the party first, then talk about democratizing the country. A party that still sticks to the old practice of distributing election tickets to the chosen and favored ones to stand in general elections should quit pretending that it is a democratic party. Such party is an elitist party in all but name; because the practice of selecting candidates instead of electing them (through primary intra-party elections) is a party that is out of touch with the ground realities and aspirations.

None of the three aspirants listed by the writer (Deuba, Paudel and Koirala) are any different from the other two. There differences with each other are only of degree, not of vision, competency or character.

Oohi,
Thurpunsich


LATEST ISSUE
638
(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)


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