3-9 January 2014 #688

Statutory warning

Political parties that suffer from a democratic deficit within can’t give us a democratic constitution
Anurag Acharya
The month after elections has once again proved that Nepal’s present breed of top netas are an embarrassment not only for those who voted them to power, but also for their own young cadre.

The shameless display of greed, power, lust, and favouritism by senior leaders in all major parties has sparked intra-party conflicts.

Pushpa Kamal Dahal bypassed both deputies to get his way with the Proportional Representation list this week, but resignation by 11 senior district leaders of Jumla including an elected CA member is a tight slap on his face. The way a ‘people’s leader’ has eroded his personal and political credibility over the years, means that the only legacy he will leave behind is that of deceit, double-speak, and debauchery. The attack on dissenting groups by Dahal supporters in Birganj and the arson in Dhading (pic) are an indication of which way the party is headed.

Dissatisfaction is also rife in the UML after hardworking leaders like Rajendra Rai and Ram Kumari Jhakri, also from marginalised backgrounds, were left out while family members of senior leaders were rewarded. It is no secret that the seats were internally divided between Madhav Kumar Nepal, Jhala Nath Khanal, and KP Oli, who cherry-picked their favourites. After nobody from their district made it to the PR list, all 40 committee members from Solukhumbu resigned on Sunday. In Inaruwa, Kosi cadre padlocked the party office in protest of the decision.

For those celebrating Kangresi victory as a comeback for democracy, its PR list debacle must have come as a rude reality check. This is a party that has long been divided, split, and patched together to suit the selfish interests of a few top leaders. The divisive politics between Girija Prasad Koirala and Krishna Prasad Bhattarai was inherited by Sushil Koirala and Sher Bahadur Deuba, who now run their own coteries along with some powerful kingmakers.

The NC’s outspoken Gagan Thapa, who signed a note of dissent along with 12 CWC members, feels it’s not just a question of why Meena Subba did not make it to the PR list or why the tainted Khum Bahadur Khadka’s wife did. Thapa is more worried about the longstanding democratic deficit within the party and disappointed by the feckless submission of senior leaders to such feudal practices.

“Seats were divided at the very top, individuals’ interests prevailed over party norms and values, yet very few chose to speak against it,” a dejected Thapa told me.

Leaders of the Madhes-based parties have made it easier on everybody by not even pretending a democratic exercise while handing PR seats to their wives on the women quota. Rajkishore Yadav, Rajendra Mahato, Anil Jha, and Sarat Singh Bhandari chose their near and dear ones while Bijay Gachhadar has rewarded seven businessmen who funded his pricey election campaign.

It’s ironic that the people have given the democratic mandate of drafting a statute to parties that have yet to prove their democratic credentials. Claims that the NC and UML are vanguards of Nepali democracy falls flat in the face when its leadership is exposed of undermining internal democracy for vested interests. Similarly, the Maoist commitment to peace and democratic politics becomes a joke when the leadership is openly promoting lumpenism to threaten and discipline opponents.

Unless political parties stop paying lip service to democracy and begin upholding it within, there is a real danger that the second CA will also fall victim to the same dysfunctional practice that brought down the first.

Read also:

To do list, EDITORIAL


comments powered by Disqus