Nepali Congress party: Leftist or rightist?
Right-left is the predominant classification in political science. Political parties, ideas and ideologies are compared along this classification.
According to accepted norms, rightist forces always represent the upper class society and defend private property and capitalism. Right wing usually refers to “conservative” or “regressive” attitudes. It’s based on belief in the selfish nature of humans and the view that achievement is equivalent to worth. The government should not interfere in people’s affairs and not force productive citizens to subsidise less productive citizens.
Conversely, leftism is a more “liberal” or “progressive” attitude. It maintains that the government must take care of all citizens as its responsibility. From left-wing perspective the country is less important than citizens.
From historical point of view, the left-right term appeared after French Revolution in 1789. In the French national assembly, aristocrats who supported the king sat on the right side while radical members sat on the left. The similar seating pattern was followed in other assemblies. The right was understood as monarchists and the left was understood as radical revolutionaries.
Let’s now map out political scenario of Nepal and characterise the controversial right-left spectrum.
From political point of view, Nepali Congress (NC) has been following the idea of social democracy and no socialists are rightist forces. NC had accepted multiparty democracy and Constitutional monarchy in the past but after the 11th General Convention it decided to maintain neutrality about monarchy. The 12th general convention had adopted the federal republic substituting monarchy.
NC has followed mixed economic system. It has allowed open markets and privatisation along with centralised economic system which are best practices of the present successful economic world. Gross domestic production increased remarkably under this system.
From social development and livelihood point of view, NC has launched many programmes to strengthen socio-economically marginalised and backward communities. This helped in reducing poverty level to 25 percent from 49 percent before the advent of democracy. Only 9 percent of the population had access to electricity but with economic growth under NC government it increased to 60 percent.
NC government eradicated bonded labor (Kamaiya Pratha) and attempted to rehabilitate them to live a dignified life. Land reform policy introduced by NC government was radical, progressive and liberal. It meant to put a ceiling to land ownership for landlords and distribute the remains to the landless people. But this programme was not implemented properly due to certain restrictions.
NC government could have done more but meanwhile so called People’s War was initiated in which 17, 000 people were killed. Thousands were internally or externally displaced and infrastructures worth 18 billion rupees were destroyed.
NC is always serious and conscious of people’s fundamental rights, democracy and human rights. That ensures equity and reduces discrimination on the basis of caste, religion, language and gender.
In Nepali political sphere discussion about right wing and left wing in itself is unnecessary. NC has ideologically accepted social democracy. It is the leader of all political changes and has set milestone of fundamental rights of people. Yet it is called a right-wing party while CPN-UML and Maoist Centre are called left wing.
NC launched various programmes to enhance the livelihood of marginalised and backward communities. It has adopted mixed economic system, social democracy, federal republic, and fundamental rights.
Significant political changes (revolutions) were launched by NC for the betterment of the common people. How can NC be called right–wing? Rightists generally represent aristocrats, upper class societies, reactionaries and regressive forces.
Analysing programmes and policies floated by NC governments, it can be said that NC is the centre left force in left-right political spectrum.