G P Koirala will be remembered for his firmness, but adherence to clean public life was almost an alien factor of his politics and practice of power. His being vested with absolute power in the post 2006, in a phase that was highly intoxicated by mass euphoria and compromises on values—all in the name of democracy---seems to have inspired all other parties to practice absolute power, absolute corruption and absolute compromises on issues of vital importance to the nation and the society. It almost became an example of ‘Badale Jo Gare Kaama, hunchha tyo sarba sammata’ (anything that a big man does gets readily acceptable to all).
Rajya Lakshmi Golchha publically revealed that she was asked a huge amount for a seat in the Constituent Assembly by the top leadership of the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML), and apparently she declined it. Business and Industrial Houses supporting a political party on the basis of adherence to the principle and ideology of that Party should be considered a healthy practice, but a deal or even an offer over parliamentary berth is out and out a corrupt politics, and corrupt electoral practice. It is entirely a different and sad issue that neither the Election Commission will go into it, nor does anyone in the current circumstances expect that the Highly politicized judiciary and the apex court that functions under the shadow of the Executive Head will show enough courage to treat the issue fairly even if a case challenging such trend came up before this.
For various reasons, Business Houses do have to take pro-establishment lines. Let us examine the prominent media, mainly print of February 1, 2005. All the big business Houses put out ads—jointly or separately—hailing the takeover by King Gyanendra. They had the option of maintaining silence in disapproval or indifference. But they chose to take a pro-active line supporting what the King did. But three years down the line, they supported and joined hands with the forces who decried the Royal action. Not only that, Business Houses invaded various or almost all the parties—big or small—and represented different Political parties in the House. They, as member of the political parties, were as responsible as any top leaders and big political parties for CA’s failure to deliver the constitution. Corruption became most rampant during the period that followed 2006 political change. The nexus between the Business and the Political community pursued the wrong culture that will continue to hound the countries in many years to come. That nexus is clearly casting its shadow on the current politics more visibly when the CA election is round the corner.
UML as a party may have got exposed in the Rajya Lakshmi Golchha case. It is just the other face of the coin that compromises other top parties including the Nepali Congress, Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoists, and various Madhes based parties. Bijaya Gachhedar apparently called two business people from Biratnagar, and promised a seat to one of them in the House , depending on the amount of money they ‘donated’ to his party for the election. Most of these parties have ‘Rich’ contractors and business people in their PR list submitted to the Election Commission and the current speculations about the price of a Berth in CA is apparently more than 15 million. The rate goes higher depending on which Party has accommodated them. How much such ‘non-transparent’ money collected by top leaders of the parties actually be spent on election, and how much will be deposited in the personal bank account, in Nepal or abroad? T
In 1974, Allahabad High Court (Uttar Pradesh) had held then Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi guilty of corrupt electoral practices leading to her disqualification as member of the House. Bihar’s former Chief Minister Lalu Yadav is the latest case to lose his House membership on the ground of being corrupt. India is not the best example of democratic practices in the world, but independence of judiciary has helped to bring big and powerful to justice when they go against the norms and rules of public life. That has helped people to retain their faith in the state and democracy a lot. Unfortunately, in Nepal while political parties and the Business Houses are establishing unethical relationship, the organs of the state like the Election Commission and the Judiciary are watching all that helplessly. Politics and business without purpose, without larger virtue, and without public service as objective become only money minting business.
G P Koirala once never used to get tired of acknowledging how king Birendra gave him a ‘gift’ with Mahatma Gandhi’s suggestions about what constituted ethics or absence of it. Wealth without work, Pleasure without Conscience , Knowledge without Character , Commerce without morality, science without humanity , worship without sacrifice and Politics without Principle , he felt were the biggest anti-thesis of ethics. Gandhi’s 144th birth anniversary were celebrated on October 2 all over India, and as well as in Nepal. Incidentally, his seven principles of ethics first appeared in Young India, the magazine he used to edit, on October 22, 1925. Nepal’s big Political parties have chosen to take Gandhi head on: ‘We believe in politics without principle. We practice politics that gives us money and comfort’.