Melancholic Living: Historical analysis of the Nepali political system – Birat Krishna Thapa
Years pass, times change, and so do people and their perception regarding life. History is witness to the fact that age-old practices are done away with, and was as humans are fundamentally prone to change. The current state of affairs for Nepal has been similar. The economy is in shambles, prices of essential goods rising, increasing competitiveness in areas of work, and snail’s pace progress.
If we look back into the past week or so many statements have been made regarding the state of affairs that the nation is going through. Nepal has seen various systems, in fact as one of the oldest nations of the world it has a lot to offer, even to the outside world who are battling for a system to be in place.
Nepal before unification has seen several state principalities, followed by a unified Monarchial system under Late King Prithvi Narayan Shah which led to the birth of a united Nepal. Continuous political upheavals and interpersonal rivalry among the royalty led to be beginning of an autocratic system. Fast forward a hundred years, people alike get together influenced by the Indian National movement against the British to bring in democracy, while maintaining a ceremonial Monarch. Simultaneously we have had a growing left ideological surge giving rise to the Communist party. Nepal would see a continuous tussle in its contemporary history between these forces of extremity resulting in destabilization and limited growth.
The tussle of power has been the center and even a driving force in Nepalese politics. Individuals alike irrespective of ideology have laid stress in attaining power rather than providing a vision for the country that would enable the people to grow. Nepal’s largest exports to the world today are Mercenaries, followed by migrant labors. Our economy is largely dependent on the human capital that is sent abroad. Our tourism industry which has unlimited potential lacks infrastructure. This has not been a system in place after the Republic, nor toward the time when people fought, sacrificed to bring in Democracy against the autocracy of the Rana regime.
It has an age-old history when the British ruled India, and our soldiers were recruited right after the treaty of Sugauli. Since then our dependence has continued while the leadership has ignored the plight of the general public. This was one of the prime reasons why public perception has always been skeptical and filled with incertitude readily accepting any change that made them a promise of a better future from their current condition. This was one of the most important foundations for the Maoist to wage a decade long war under Prachanda, and Dr. Baburam Bhattarai as the main architects both who became Prime Ministers. Never in history have we seen a King peacefully calling out a press conference and abdicating in favor of the aspirations of the Nepalese people then who wanted a Republic in place.
Who holds the Helm
Historically the elite has had a run with the entire system. When Nepal was under absolute Monarchy people close to the Palace had their way. When the general public came together to overthrow the system and put a democratic practice in place the power center shifted. Leaders of various political parties had access to newfound power. The core of the problem being, leaders that attained power spent more time preserving rather than utilization for the common good. From historical perspectives to contemporary times the political leadership of Nepal has expressed that the public always came first, they promised changes, and all of it was done in the name of development. Former King Gyanendra said just before leaving the palace “I have no intention of leaving the country, I will be here to establish peace”. Similarly, when the Maoists gave up arms and signed the Comprehensive Peace Accord which brought the tenets of Republicanism there was hope that finally a system would be in place which would be for the betterment for the people and opportunities would be made available. After two constituent assembly elections, Nepal received a new constitution but which largely disappointed the people of the Terai region. Hence there was not a single power center that actually held the ropes to have a concrete way to take things forward.
Internal factions, and rising political consciousness.
Much recently Former Deputy Prime Minister Chitra Bahadur KC also the President of the National People Front stated that “the republic is in grave danger, we should all unite in order to save it”. He also hinted on the design of ending secularism and reinstating Monarchy. Taking heed of what is happening with the current scenario and growing public frustration, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli before departing for the second time in a month to Singapore for his health check-up, called a meeting of the Quartets. It involved four major political parties, Nepali Congress, the ruling Nepal Communist Party, Samajwadi Party, and Rashtriya Janata Party. In this crucial meeting, it was decided that the government will unite in matters of national security and activities that threaten the Republic. However, there are political parties that still are in favor of reinstating Monarchy like the Rashtriya Prajatantra Party (United). Its Chairman Pashupati Sumsher Rana recently in an interview to journalist Rishi Dhamala spoke about the need of the hour and the aspirations of the people who primarily identified themselves as Hindu. He said “Secularism was brought in the eleventh hour in a secretive manner and was imposed upon the people of Nepal. We had proposed a constitutional amendment at the constituent assembly and no major party had any objection of a sort”.
It is evidently seen that the problem of Nepal lies within the leadership and their inability to come through within a single ideological framework. While the Maoists were anti-government back in the 90’s we see a similar situation today with the Communist Party of Nepal led by Netra Bikram Chand alias ” Biplav. There are former dissatisfied Maoists who are bent on continuing their armed struggle. In such a delicate scenario, Nepal is at a crossroads where the only probability in order to save the newfound Republic will be to cater to the aspirations of the people. With very few opportunities and increasing migration, Nepal life as such is melancholic, with a slow pace in development and increasing competition, it is a matter of grave concern for the future generation.