Swatantra Party leaders seek rewrite of political paperA year after party formation, they call for clarity on political and ideological stands on major national issues.
Rastriya Swatantra Party’s (RSP) General Secretary Mukul Dhakal on May 31 finalised the draft of the party’s new political document with the help of central committee members Ramesh Prasai and Kamal Subedi. The plan was to unveil it on June 22, when it will be a year since the RSP’s formation.
The document detailed the party’s ideological line, policies, and its vision on the form of governance, among other issues. By Saturday, the draft was distributed among the party’s central committee members, lawmakers, those in charge of provincial committees, province chairs, vice-chairs and secretaries for feedback on the proposed ideas.
However, the draft has met with severe criticisms from party leaders.
“Almost 90 percent of the party leaders have expressed their dissatisfaction over the document. Many have suggested a rewrite,” said a party’s office bearer, requesting anonymity.
Party’s central committee member Arniko Pandey said on social media that the document requires a rewrite. “Friends worried about the RSP document circulating: That was a draft prepared by three individuals. It was being reviewed and critiqued by a small circle with strict instructions not to circulate. It needs major rewriting, but some idiot leaked the original that most of us don’t own,” Pandey wrote on Twitter on June 14.
The party had for months been trying to prepare a document. However, as the team entrusted with the task could not do so, the general secretary and two central committee members took up the matter.
However, with most leaders opposed to the document, the party has decided to rewrite it, say insiders.
“Saturday was the deadline for giving feedback, in writing, for any amendment to the draft. The party will form a team to rewrite the document,” said lawmaker Santosh Pariyar, who is also the chief whip of the party. A party meeting by Monday will decide on the process.
The draft has proposed constitutional socialism as the party’s ideological line.
The RSP’s press coordinator Ganesh Karki said the draft lacks the clarity the public seeks. “If we are clarifying our ideological line, policies and stands, they should be clear and in-depth to make people understand them. Many ideas are superficial,” said Karki.
Some party leaders have also criticised the document for its omission of the struggles and sacrifices made by the Nepali people for change, and the roots of problems in our society.
A change in the form of governance has been the agenda of the Rastriya Swatantra Party since its inception last year. The party’s manifesto for the November elections envisioned a directly-elected executive head and chief ministers. The draft retains the idea of a directly elected executive head in the federal government; in the provinces, too, it advocates government under a directly elected executive.
“The ideas of provincial governors and provincial councils envisioned in the new document are rather unclear. The pros and cons of such concepts have not been adequately analysed,” said a party office bearer.
The RSP won seven seats under the first-past-the-post system and 13 under the proportional representation category of the parliamentary polls held last year. It registered impressive victories, defeating candidates of a coalition involving big parties in two of the three constituencies in the April bypolls this year.
The party is the fourth largest in the House of Representatives with 21 seats. The Swatantra Party did not field any candidate in the provincial elections, prompting many to suspect its commitment to federalism.
The new party is witnessing a serious ideological debate as it tries to chart its future course. It tapped on public frustration to secure an impressive mandate by promising to root out corruption and improve public services.
Observers warn that given its lack of clear political and ideological lines, loose organisational structure and fuzzy ideas on pressing national issues, it may face hindrances going forward. As the party works on organisation-building, it also wants to be clear on its ideological line and views on big issues of the day, leaders say.
“One year after the party’s formation, I think the document clarifying the party’s ideologies, policies and stands should be prepared without further delay,” Pariyar added.