Democracy’s gravediggersKP Sharma Oli proved that you may win elections and still be a loser.
When President Bidya Devi Bhandari dissolved Parliament in December last year on the recommendation of Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, we wrote on these pages that Bhandari and Oli had ticked all the boxes of Machiavellian treachery. Little did we know at the time that there was more to come in the next few months.
When the Supreme Court invalidated their unconstitutional act, it was hoped that they would realise the political crime they had committed against the constitution, express remorse for their actions, and mend their ways. On the contrary, they came back with a vengeance.
In the days after Parliament was reinstated, the President and the prime minister honed their skills at scheming against the constitution. They took calculated risks and took some setbacks in their stride in anticipation of a bigger victory. And they have achieved what they wanted: The dissolution of Parliament and the announcement of midterm elections yet again.
The President and the prime minister have won in their unconstitutional stratagem while the country has lost. In their pursuit of excellence in Machiavellian treachery, Bhandari and Oli have shown how just a handful of politicians can take politics out of track if their priorities are misplaced. The point is, their politics is not even going to take them anywhere. If anything, their political schemings have wrecked their political future. And they have wrecked political culture along with their political future.
If Oli and Bhandari were honest about solving the political crisis, they would have done various things other than dissolve the House. Oli could have opted for a graceful exit, no matter how disgraced he already was. Bhandari could have given more than just a day to parliamentarians to claim majority support. But no, their intention was clearly to dissolve the House at any cost. And in that conspiracy, they have proven pretty successful.
Having partaken in Oli’s schemes, the President has disgraced the country’s top institution that is mandated to act as a check-and-balance mechanism against the executive. President Bhandari has set a benchmark for how not to become a pawn at the hands of an authoritarian comrade. She used the President’s Office only to support the authoritarian ambitions of one individual whereas her job description is exactly the opposite.
The President is mandated to check undemocratic activities of the executive head of the state and uphold and protect the constitution. Instead, Bidya Devi Bhandari used every duplicity in the book to destroy constitutionalism and rule of law. Sadly, we don’t have many past presidents to compare, but future generations will probably speak of her as one of the worst presidents we have had. Rather than a president, she will be remembered as a sidekick to the prime minister.
When the country should be fighting together against the deadly Covid-19 pandemic, Bhandari and Oli want people to stand in voting queues as politicians fight against one another in midterm elections. History will judge them harshly for their foolproof cunning against the constitution, parliamentary democracy, ethical politics, and the future of the country.
When the country underwent a series of political changes in the first two decades of this century, the least the people expected of politicians was a commitment to ethics-based politics and a march towards development and prosperity. Today, it is a sad story of dreams deferred and aspirations in the doldrums.