Power politics at the cost of the country

The main goal of political parties is to attain the reins of government and stay in power as long as possible. To that end political parties in Nepal are no different in hankering for power and trying to retain it.

But should the hunger for power be at the cost of country? Like the case of Nepal where political instability and violence has left democracy in tatters and pushed the nation several years behind.

When the Constituent Assembly got dissolved in May without a constitution it seemed early election is the only viable option to hold on to the progress made in constitution drafting since 2008.

Seven months have passed and there is still no clear indication on when fresh polls would be held- if they are held at all. The reason for the situation is not far to seek- the constant power struggle among parties to head the government when elections are held.

For those who are unaware, Nepal at present doesn’t have a parliament and is being run by a caretaker government headed by Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) and supported by a conglomeration of Madhesi parties from the country’s Terai region bordering India.

Immediately after announcing dissolution of the CA, Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai had announced fresh polls in November 22. But though the date came and went without event, Bhattarai is still glued to his post despite failure to hold elections.

The opposition led by Nepali Congress who has been demanding Bhattarai’s resignation as pre-condition for formation of the national unity government- seen as the only panacea to resolve the current political and constitutional crisis- is also at fault.

Not willing to trust a unity government headed by Maoists, Nepali Congress and the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist) have refused to join the current government—-a move that could turn the present coalition into a government comprising all parties or at least the major ones.

They feel if Maoists head the government when the country goes to polls, they (Maoists) could influence the outcome to their benefit by misusing the election machinery, rigging and muscle power. The Maoists also have the same apprehensions about other parties.

Last week it appeared that the deadlock could end if Nepali Congress, the prime contender to head the unity government, agrees to give up their claim to the information and broadcasting, home, defence and finance ministries- all powerful ministries with role in elections.

But hopes were soon dashed as Maoists shifted their stance yet again. Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ expressed inability to convince Bhattarai to give up his post and the Prime Minister came up with his list of demands to make way for the unity government.

As the battle for power continues, deadlines given by President Ram Baran Yadav to all parties to nominate a Prime Minister through consensus keep getting expired and Nepal continues to remain unsure of how long the stalemate would continue.

Interestingly, the present power struggle is not new to Nepal. From 1990 till 2008 when the country was a constitutional monarchy, it had 14 prime ministers and since 2008 (when it became a republic) it had seen five persons in that post.

Such frequent brushes with power may have helped many politicians fulfill their political ambitions of heading government, but it has cost Nepal dearly, which is one of the poorest nations in the world despite its abundant natural resources especially hydro power.

And it will remain in that pitiable position as long as power politics at the cost of the nation continues.

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