Congress In The Authoritarian Path

Some of them even suggested that Nepali Congress surrendered before the Maoists, blindly followed its radical agenda like republicanism, secularism and federalism, and that it need to review all that.

April 14, 2013, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol: 06 No. -20 Apr.12- 2013 (Chitra 30, 2069)

That the likes of Ram Chandra Poudel and Krishna Sitaula had to present vision document for Nepali Congress—something the likes of B P Koirala. G M Singh and K P Bhattarai used to do earlier—speaks volume about the degeneration of politics, its character and content in general, and the Nepali Congress in particular. The four -day Mahasamiti meeting held at Trivenidham in the second week of April  was never the less an eye-opener for the party’s top leaders as the delegates minced no words in conveying the message that all is not well in the Party, and that its leaders no way commanded peoples respect and hope.

Some of them even suggested that Nepali Congress surrendered before the Maoists, blindly followed its radical agenda like republicanism, secularism and federalism, and that it need to review all that. The Party felt compelled to invite Swami Kamalnayanacharya, abbot of the Mukti Nath Shrine, to address the meeting attended by more than 1,300 delegates, was a proof that it has taken the criticism seriously, but there was hardly any message that the party was going to review and rectify it. The Swami said, and delegates welcomed with applause, that Nepal is a ‘Hindu Nation’ and its identity should not be altered under any circumstances. It was perhaps because of that sentiment that the Political resolution moved by Poudel presented a vague picture of what a federal Nepal should be like, but kept silent about its ‘transformation into a Secular Republic.’

Review of any one of the current three identities of the country—Republic, federal and secular—no doubt will lead to review and rectification of all. After all, the decision to impose these three was not taken on the basis of merit or well-considered debate. Nor were the Nepalese given a chance to express themselves, by way of casting their vote or opinion, and this is generally taken as an agenda of the donors, routed through Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist, and endorsed by Nepali Congress led by G P Koirala. But current opinion polls have projected that the Rastriya Prajatantra Party-Nepal (RPP-N) that has been campaigning for restoration of Nepal’s status as a Hindu Kingdom as guaranteed in the 1990 constitution. Rastriya Janashakti Party of Surya Bahadur Thapa and Rastriya Prajatantra Party of Pashupati Shumsher Rana that are inching towards unity, are also demanding that Nepal must remain a Hindu country.  The current debate and political trend leaves NC with limited options: either to lead the conservatives trying to restore part or full ‘fundamental’ features of the 1990 constitution, or continue to accept the Team ‘B’ status of the UCPN-M.

With no charismatic and visionary leaders, and with dwindling organization base and with its policy of surrender towards the Maoists in the past six years, NC is rejuvenation—organization-wise and ideologically—is a tall order.

In fact, the NC in the past six years has transformed into a party backing authoritarianism. A Party that could have brought the institution of Monarchy within the framework of constitution, and the Maoists within the norms of accountability of Parliamentary system, chose to tread along the radical path set by the Maoists. What makes a Party or political force pro-authoritarian? : Its quest for excessive concentration of power, opposition to the principle of separation of power and intolerance towards independence of judiciary, opposition –within and outside the Party—its scant respect for rule of law, and its willingness to promote and benefit from the culture of impunity.  All these caps fit on the NC head. G P Koirala chose to have all the powers—NC Chief, Prime Minister and acting head of the state at the same time--, his leading a government with no opposition in revived parliament, and his continuing as the head of the executive even after he failed to security majority in the constituent assembly election in 2008 shows he was a dictator in the guise of a democratic system. The resultant political crisis and instability is the outcome of that compromise on the part of the Nepali Congress, and it will not be trusted by the people until and unless it made the correction.

The Triveni conclave therefore, was more of a ritual and far less an exercise towards taking politics and the nation seriously. The ‘pygmies’ in the top position, deaf and blind towards the prevailing distrust towards the Nepali Congress, may have hardly tried to understand what the people actually wanted. Their rhetoric that the ‘country has already moved in the direction of election, and that the NC will sweep the poll’ hardly means anything.  Nor was the leadership able to convince their own cadres that Supreme court Chief Justice as the Executive Head was a decision taken in the best interest of the nation and democracy.  There was no assurance from the leadership that it will review its policy, mainly on its support to the Maoists since 2006, on republic, federalism and secularism, and its mere eagerness to go to the poll with no agenda, commanding no trust of its own delegates and with uninspiring leadership, is sure recipe of its doom.

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