Only a strong opposition can keep the ruling party on its toesWithout a viable and effective opposition, parliamentary democracy would largely be a sham.
When it comes to making decisions unilaterally, the leader of the ruling party and the opposition share the same characteristics. Like KP Oli, Sher Bahadur Deuba, too, is accused time and again by his party members of making decisions unilaterally and running the party in a very top-down approach. What’s more, the pressure has been mounting on him to hold Nepali Congress’s 14th general convention by mid-March. With so many factions inside the party, the grand old party is not only fragmented, but is in disarray. It is regrettable to note that the opposition is bereft of any vision or strategy for its institutional working.
The Deuba and Poudel factions have long been on a collision course over the holding of the party’s 14th general convention. While Poudel has been lobbying for the convention to be held by mid-March next year, party President Deuba does not appear to be ready.
Nepali Congress headed the government several times since the restoration of democracy in 1990, but faced an electoral drubbing in the 2017 elections. Congress is now an opposition, but a mute, absent one at that. Factionalism within the party has crippled the organisational structure and a rudderless leadership has left the party workers disenchanted. There is an urgent need to revitalise the party and make its presence felt.
During the time of the elections, there was little doubt regarding the potential of the ruling party. Especially after it won a thumping majority in Parliament. But over time, with the ruling party crushing dissent and trickling down laws and decisions in a peremptory manner, the current impression is that the democratic process is being ignored. There is a greater need than ever to stabilise democracy. Therefore, now is the time for the opposition to reestablish its fidelity to democratic institutions and uphold democratic norms. Only a strong opposition can keep the ruling party on its toes, for without a viable and effective opposition, parliamentary democracy would largely be a sham.
Nepali Congress needs to position itself as the representative of democracy that it claims is so dear to them. Should it fail to do so, it will be shooting itself in the foot. A strong and responsible opposition holds the ruling government in check along with holding it accountable to the promises it made to voters. In a democracy, the winning party is mandated to make any laws and implement them, but it cannot do so in totality if the opposition plays its role effectively. As for Congress, holding the general election on time by fixing the organisational infirmities will help restore the party image to some extent. The party was in a stupor for long. It’s time that it came out of it.