Post politics in NepalDisillusioned or not with the parties, a large number of people turn out to cast their votes.
Political developments in Nepal over the years have so strongly dominated the minds of the Nepali people that they appear to be glibly postponing all other concerns of life in order to find time to review their anxieties about political matters. These political developments have triggered serious discussions among politicians, analysts and media people too. Those who do not consider politics as their main subject of interest in their writings and academic discussions have found some important themes for contemplation. The political developments in Nepal over the years defy any monolithic interpretation. I have been following the analyses of political scholars and media analysts over some months to understand the developments. But I have come to realise that one should look at the fast political transformations happening since 2006 to the present day to understand the current situation. To understand these transformations, mainly those of alliances and dissolutions, one has to approach the subject with an open mind.
Postality, that has become the character of ideologies and literary theories, is the best guide for me to understand also the present politics of Nepal. The communist parties of Nepal and their metamorphoses, their shifting avatars in terms of forging and dissolving alliances over the years reaching its climax now in the present local elections nationwide show that instead of sticking to their conventional theories, they have opened themselves up to post-ideological agreements and lines of actions. This development has impelled the oldest democratic party the Nepali Congress also to review its position and open up to the post-ideological conditions which is closer to that of the communists. For lack of space, I would like to put this political situation in Nepal as one that combines features of post-politics that requires parties to work for ethical or moral rather than just political values. In short, the dominant feature of Nepali politics today is guided by conditions of postality.
But my conviction is that the political situation in Nepal is far from a mess. It is passing through a phase of experiment that shapes the underlying pattern of new developments in the politics of Nepal. The question is what is that underlying development then? What kind of politics are we talking about here? There is no easy answer to that. Based on certain developments and the current trends that have become manifest in the local elections that were held on May 13 and the fast pace of the dissolutions, formations, reformulations, alliances and uncertainties, we can draw a picture of the politics of Nepal not least the challenges that surround it.
I consider the provision of local government as the most important contribution of the democratic republican system of Nepal because this system functions at all units or palikas; and they are duly elected by the people under the partisan system, which is the main character and spirit of the constitution. The office bearers, the people's representatives of these palikas became strongly visible during the scourge of Covid-19. It was very good to see them doing their best to create quarantine centres to put up the people who came in droves from India where they had gone to work to support their families back home at different times. Though these efforts of the palikas were not sufficient for that, and they had difficulties because of the lack of coordination with the government at the centre and even at the provincial level, they appeared to be the only viable agencies of the local people to tackle the problems. They had limitations and had no access to vaccines and material facilities because responsible agencies and persons, from government ministers and bureaucratic officials to vyaparis or business people or dealers, were tacitly working in connivance to take advantage of the horridly difficult situation. There were visible examples of the function of local units even during these moments. I am not saying that all the palikas were functioning honestly, but what is true is that, in order to create a system, people were trying to work in tandem with the people they had elected locally. This applies to other moments of challenges as well.
Representatives for the selfsame palikas are being elected now. Votes are being counted even as I write these lines. People have been working with all the available accoutrements of the electoral system as given by the constitution. People's participation is tremendously invigorating. They responded to the calls, and the torrents of propaganda produced by the political parties in whatever way they could. They entered the polling booths carrying big papers or matpatra with a plethora of electoral signs and names. I heard voters fumbling and complaining from booths near mine. However, the number of invalid votes is not as colossal as I had feared then. It shows the people's strong faith in the electoral system and their desire to elect the right people in this election. One other development was noticed this time. The tremendous enthusiasm to elect non-partisan candidates including some youths who have come with fresh programmes articulated through new idioms is a subject to reckon with even though this has appeared in a few palikas only. But this trend speaks volumes.
But what is interesting and eloquent is the sense with which the political parties created alliances and fought the elections. That involved bafflements, uncertainties, haste and impatience. An eloquent proof of this psychological dimension of politics is the language the political leaders and their coteries used over the last 10 months or so. And now they feel they are trapped by their own idioms.
One very notable feature is that many people are showing their disillusionment with the established system of party politics, which is supported by convention and the constitution. People have to choose their candidates from the list created by the major well-known political parties. It is considered a voter's karma to vote for the candidates whom they may not like in a loktantrik system. One fallacy in loktantrik politics that is hegemonised by political parties and the general mass is that all people are members of one or the other political party, which is not a reality. That is the reason why the turnout in democratic elections in many countries is so low. But the Nepali voters' hearts are very large. Disillusioned or not with the candidates and parties and their false promises, a large number of people turn out to cast their votes. That is a very moving as well as a positive aspect of the Nepali loktantrik system.
The political parties should address the post political trend of the Nepali political system very carefully. The first step towards that is a cool and careful assessment of the current local elections and their political impact.