Oh, what a fall it wasOli will be remembered in Nepali politics and society for all the wrong reasons.
Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli lost the vote of confidence in the House on Monday, but that is just an arithmetical manifestation of the moral-political legitimacy he had already lost in December last year after he dissolved Parliament. At a time when he should have shown utmost humility and humanity to rescue the nation out of the pandemic-induced crisis, all he did was debilitate democratic politics and enable the dance of death.
No other leader has squandered as big an historic electoral mandate and established that the practice of democracy in Nepal is a zero-sum game. This is not to overlook the role of Oli’s friends and foes in Parliament and the ruling party who have fished in the water muddied by Oli. But the largest piece of the stale cake of notoriety should automatically go to Oli, as he has been at the helm for the past three years, and is the primary architect of the project to weaken democracy for personal reasons.
KP Sharma Oli will be remembered as someone who attempted to break all boundaries of ethics, values and integrity in Nepal’s democratic politics, intoxicated as he was with greed for absolute power. He has little to show in terms of strengthening constitutionality, federalism and secularism. On the contrary, he played a pivotal role in eroding the utility and meaning of those concepts altogether.
Perhaps the greatest crime Oli committed against Nepali citizens is that he sowed in their minds the seeds of suspicion about the utility of democracy. It will take years, even decades, for the suspicion to fade away. He single-handedly drove democratic politics to the brink when his attempts at emerging as the absolute authority faced challenges. He exhibited how democracy can become a dangerous weapon when it falls into the hands of an unrestrained demagogue.
KP Sharma Oli will go down in history as a leader who crushed the dreams of a generation of Nepalis to see the country leave behind a troubled past and carve out a democratic and prosperous future for itself. He exhibited in himself a great combination of ineptitude in governance and arrogance in partisan politics. He showed how one person’s lust for power can turn democratic politics into a loss-making enterprise.
When Nepali citizens entrusted Oli with the reins of a young federal democratic republic, the expectation was that he would keep his personal bias against federalism, secularism and marginalised communities at bay, and help the people realise their dreams of peace, prosperity and justice. With great power comes great responsibility, and it was hoped he would honour what he was entrusted with. He did quite the opposite.
KP Sharma Oli was given a rare chance to lead Nepal into the future, but he showed how far a democratically elected leader could go to buttress his image, consolidate his authority and prolong his rule at the cost of democratic values. His rise and fall in Nepal’s democratic politics should serve as a cautionary tale of how not to practise democratic politics. A section of those who elected him to power three years ago are perhaps eager to see him head to the exit today, for he has killed their hopes and dreams.