Need an oppositionThe Nepali Congress must unite to keep the government on its toes
The 12th general convention of the Nepal Student Union—the student wing of the Nepali Congress (NC)—was supposed to be held from November 2-4. But thanks to a widening rift between the two factions in the party, one led by NC President Sher Bahadur Deuba and the other by senior leader Ram Chandra Poudel, the organisational charter could not be endorsed. Ultimately, the convention was postponed by two months. But this is not the first time it has been pushed back. The get-together was originally scheduled to be held in August.
The Poudel-led faction of the NC has been accusing Deuba of working in a totalitarian manner against the party statute and principles. As if that was not enough, Deuba appointed Bijaya Kumar Gachhadar as the vice-president in blatant disregard of the faction’s concern. What’s more, the Nepal Student Union staged a sit-in on Sunday to put pressure on the leadership to create a conducive environment for the convention.
The fact that Nepal’s grand old party is beset by internal issues is not new. In fact, its electoral drubbing is widely attributed to the existing problems in their organisational set-up where decisions are often taken unilaterally without deliberations with other party members. But whatever their concerns may be, they need to be solved swiftly. The NC is the only opposition the government has at the moment. Should that opposition dwell on intra-party issues as well, the incumbent government will have free rein. This could ultimately have unpredictable consequences for our democratic project.
Democratic systems thrive only when there are enough checks and balances. Power needs to be constantly interrogated; and this will not be possible without a strong opposition. With no opposition or a weak opposition that fails to point out the irregularities of the government of the day, people will be made to believe that this is the best they can get. Further, the quality of public discourse that informs public opinion too declines. A strong opposition then becomes a must to keep the incumbent government from being inefficient, check corruption and abuses, and promote national conversations to an elevated level of political development and maturity. Such discussions will only make a democracy strong and the citizenry effectively conscious of the political development in the country. The absence of an effective opposition breeds arrogance and leadership ineptitude. In fact, opposition is often the first line of defence against creeping authoritarianism.
A good government needs a strong opposition. Currently, the NC has an opportunity of being one. It goes without saying that they should be utilising this chance to solve all intra-party issues and come together as a party to put critical questions to the incumbent government. As the opposition party, the NC should push for policies responsive to the people’s needs instead of engaging in petty politics and opposing anything the Nepal Communist Party says only for the sake of doing so. Only when it thinks beyond unseating the government of the day can it demonstrate a better capacity to lead. Any government should fear the opposition because that is the only way to ensure it carries out its duties and delivers on the promises made. The NC must get rid of the factions within the party and play its role as a strong watchdog.