Lack of political culture has bred mistrust among parties, observers sayUnable to trust the Maoists, Deuba has started approaching the main opposition, CPN-UML, mainly for the endorsement of the bill on the MCC grant.
Although Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba has been in office for nearly two months now, he hasn’t been able to give full shape to his Cabinet. And still there are no signs of Cabinet expansion anytime soon.
If the recent statement by the CPN (Unified Socialist) chair Madhav Kumar Nepal is anything to go by, Deuba’s Cabinet will not get a full shape at least until next week.
“No party will utter a word about Cabinet expansion until September 8,” Nepal told journalists on Thursday. Though he didn’t dwell on the details, it was clear that the ruling parties want to withdraw the ordinance related to the Political Parties Act, 2017 before Cabinet expansion.
After the CPN-UML and the Janata Samajbadi Party split on the basis of the new ordinance, the Election Commission has given provincial assembly members and local government representatives elected on the two parties’ tickets until September 7 to decide whether they want to remain in their mother parties — CPN-UML and Janata Samajbadi Party — or join the splinter parties — the CPN (Unified Socialist) of Madhav Nepal and Loktantrik Samajbadi Party of Mahantha Thakur. The government cannot repeal the ordinance until September 7.
There are 21 ministries and there is a constitutional limitation not to exceed the number of ministers beyond 25. In the five-party ruling alliance, the Rastriya Janamorcha has announced it would not join the government. However, the other four parties are struggling to divide the ministers owing to a high number of aspirants. The problem is particularly serious in the Nepal-led CPN (Unified Socialist) and the Janata Samajbadi Party led by Upendra Yadav. Some members of the House of Representatives chose the two parties hoping that they would be awarded ministerial berths.
Some ruling party leaders including Upendra Yadav fear that their parties could split further if the Cabinet is expanded without withdrawing the ordinance.
Observers say a political party is formed adhering to specific ideology and principles. However, there is an increasing trend of launching new parties to serve vested interests.
“The differences and distrust are unavoidable when their interests clash. The example is right before us,” Mrigendra Bahadur Karki, executive director at the Centre of Nepal and Asian Studies, told the Post.
The differences and mistrust are not limited to the ruling parties but extend to parties outside the government and state organs also. The Deuba government was formed with support from the CPN (Maoist Centre), the CPN (Unified Socialist), the Janata Samajbadi Party and the Rastriya Janamorcha. On July 18, during a confidence vote, Deuba had secured 165 votes—60 percent— of the 271 strong House of Representatives.
However, with several crucial bills including the controversial one on the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) grant pending in Parliament, Deuba is still not sure whether he has enough support to pass the bills because the CPN (Maoist Centre) opposes the bill.
Unable to trust the Maoists, Deuba has started approaching the main opposition, CPN-UML, mainly for the endorsement of the bill on the MCC grant.
The level of distrust among the state organs too is deepening.
On February 5, Speaker Agni Sapkota filed a writ petition against the Office of the President, then prime minister KP Sharma Oli, Chief Justice Cholendra Shumsher Rana and National Assembly Chairman Ganesh Timilsina challenging the appointments in different constitutional commissions. It was an unprecedented incident where a head of one state organ had taken a legal battle against the executive head, chief of judiciary and the President.
Only on Thursday, the UML filed a writ petition against Speaker Sapkota, arguing that his refusal to remove 14 of its lawmakers who have now joined CPN (Unified Socialist) was politically motivated.
“This happens when the characters prevail over the system in any decision-making process,” Daman Nath Dhungana, a former Speaker and a civil society member, told the Post. “Unfortunately, these characters don’t think above their vested interest.”
Observers say it is obvious that those leading the state agencies act in the interest of the parties they are associated with, and there is also a tendency among the parties to raise a stink whenever a certain decision taken by the state agencies does not suit their interest.
“It is basically a result of dirty political practice and ideological deviations,” said Karki, of the Centre of Nepal and Asian Studies.
Though the country went through different political changes in the last three decades, observers say the same set of people continue to be in the helm and they never changed their working style or worked towards developing a political culture and value-based politics.
Dhungana says the tranny of the state and political authority has continued to prevail over the years and the political parties and their leaders never followed the rules of the game.
In his observation, the feeling among the political leaders that they set the rule is the major problem of Nepali politics.
“What I have observed is that Nepali politics reached its historic low point after the CPN (Maoist Centre) joined mainstream politics through the peace process in 2006. This is not going to change until the present set of political characters and the leaders of the state organs are changed,” he said.