Monday, September 26, 2022

Nepal's messy politics

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All rooms at Sauraha village, the eastern gateway to Chitwan National Park, a popular tourist destination, were booked for the first time thanks to the 10th national general convention of the CPN (UML), the largest party of Nepal in late November.

It was reported that as many as 500,000 people attended the inaugural ceremony held on November 26. Only 2,175 representatives participated the congress. They were selected from all party members, around 600,000.

The communist party under the leadership of Chairman and former Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli might have tried to show muscle after its split by inviting as many people to appear in the venue. As a result, the East-West highway was blocked, leaving thousands of passengers including patients aboard ambulances stranded on the road for hours.

Unfortunately, it seemed that political figures from the main opposition party refused to admit for this error. None of them realized that to win people’s hearts someone should stand up saying “I’m sorry” for the inconvenience.

Is UML serious about the labouring people? Vladimir Lenin once said, “Frankly acknowledging a mistake, ascertaining the reasons for it, analysing the conditions that have led up to it and thrashing out the means of its rectification--that is the hallmark of a serious party.”

With the principle of people's multi-party democracy as the party's ideology, party leaders should show some sense of responsibility by respecting people’s rights. After all, empowering each and every individual to control their lives and to live in dignity is a primal principle of democracy.

In addition, according to a sermon given by Frederick Lewis Donaldson in Westminster Abbey, London, politics without principle is one of the seven social sins.

The chaos made by the party on that Friday in Chitwan district is just the epitome of those occurring almost every day throughout the whole country that suffers with disoriented politics.

In some public schools, some teachers are far from qualified. They get the job only by the special relations with political leaders. They are not interested in teaching but good at playing politics. To say the least, they need to keep their hand in to pursue political career.

Wondering about the challenges and crises facing Nepal at present, this writer led some assistants for a series of interviews with people from all walks of life, only to find omnipresent partisan politics standing out as their chief complaint.

In Chitwan district, a college student told us that her dream is going abroad since she doesn’t see any future here: those friendly rules for education have already been destroyed by student leaders under political sway.

In some public schools, some teachers are far from qualified. They get the job only by the special relations with political leaders. They are not interested in teaching but good at playing politics. To say the least, they need to keep their hand in to pursue political career.

This kind of thing may happen all over Nepal. As a consequence, students’ needs and educational affairs are laid aside and the whole environment becomes malignant to a degree never before seen in Nepal’s education system.

A dangerous trend is that local people start to categorise educational institutions by their political background. A senior teacher who has been working in this sector for two decades lamented that students would have to call their teachers as Congress teacher, UML teacher, Maoist teacher, RPP teacher, and so on.

How many innocent people in every field have been divided deeply and painfully along political lines?

A veteran journalist makes merry over his colleagues, saying that 90 percent of them are childish. They are like political animals when it comes to journalism since they revolve round their own political party, waving aside the mass’s rights to both objective information and fair opinions.

Artificial divides among Nepali people based on narrow partisanship worsen the country’s prospects. Nepal has fallen into the trap of “pan-politicization”, which means disordered politics takes an interest in every field and tries to control and rule each sector for some parties’ gain.

Comments on politics and politicians from businessmen and investors are particularly negative. Many said they have lost interest in politics, using words like “bad” “dirty” “short sighted” and “hateful”. It reminded me of the unique remark by one political leader recently--political leaders are being tagged as “thieves” when they go to villages.

Newly-elected RPP Chairperson Rajendra Lingden made this observation in front of incumbent PM, three former Prime Ministers and other VIPs during the opening session of the 14th National General Convention of the Nepali Congress on December 10.

It is a common sense that politics is also a profession, but there is no threshold for anyone who wants to try their hand at politics in Nepal. Many youths are misled to join the politics or follow it blindly, causing a lot of social problems whose seriousness fails to gain attention from the public till date.

For example, experts’ studies show that fertile agricultural lands are being abandoned at an unprecedented degree in Nepal, rural labour migration being one main factor. To get rid of politics, many young people go abroad and look down upon agriculture production. Some consider politics as a pagoda tree and become a part of one or the other political party, with a dream of shaking it.

In busy farming season in villages without youth, only old parents work in the countryside while young sons and daughters are occupied with politics in towns and cities.

Furthermore, the professionalism of all trades and professions are under the shadow of monstrous politics.

In the course of publishing my English book and its Nepali version in the past 10 months, I came to know that frequent political activities disturbed the normal office job of publishers, translators, editors, proof-readers, and even the printing presses. Turning their mind to party affairs, some couldn’t do well the work required of them.

Although there are only five national political parties in the parliament recognized by the Election Commission (EC) at present, the total number of parties registered in the EC has reached 97 in August 2021. Besides, there are other unregistered parties.

Those smart people full of political craziness know only two kinds of men generally best succeed in political life: men of no principle but with great talent; men of no talent but obedient to their superiors.

The nation has only 30 million population, among them, nearly 10 million citizens are working or staying out of the country. Evidently, Nepal is overcrowded with political parties.

It’s often said that politics here has become a profitable business. When everyone wants a slice of the action from politics, politics must be sick.  When people are addicted to unhealthy politics, their spirit erodes considerably.

Those smart people full of political craziness know only two kinds of men generally best succeed in political life: men of no principle but with great talent; men of no talent but obedient to their superiors.

While discussing with political issues of Tarai plains with this writer in Nepalgunj recently, senior writer Narendra Jung Pitar sharply criticized some politicians for being mean, cunning and hypocritical.

“They have emptied themselves and distanced themselves from the real national agenda. They are soulless,” he said.

In less than one year, the general election will be held. Voters may be confused again over political parties and candidates. Before knowing to who should be voted for, they are supposed to understand what politics is first.

During his visit to Japan many years ago, the then secretary of Nepal Royal Academy Sanat Regmi asked one local nurse, “What is politics?”

“I don’t know, but I know my duty, my duty is to look after patients well,” the nurse answered frankly and proudly.

Published on 21 December 2021

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