• Friday 20th September 2019

Non-Partisan: Full Circle

  • Published on: September 4, 2019

  • We cannot but recall with quite considerable satisfaction indeed that these columns have, ever since the conceptualization of this Weekly, insisted that excessive partisan interests are primary contributors to the seemingly un-arrestable slide fuelled by national politics. This slide was somewhat deterred by king Mahendra who could fathom distortions of partisan politics which contributed to the chaos of the Fifties although it continued to obstruct his national cause all the way upto his death. Its resumption under King Birendra in guise of demands for democracy should have been arrested after the 1990 movement which resulted in the restoration of the multi-party system. Instead, the intensification of partisan interests under the multi party system resulted in wayward compromises that contributed to the popular disaffection on national performance furthering partisan interests to the ultimate paralysis of the 1990 constitution and the parliamentary system. It is parochial partisan interests that dominated in the overthrow of constitutional monarchy and the nation’s ultimate inability to withstand foreign intervention which has brought about the current dispensation against which popular opposition is growing. The very proponents of this change now feel threatened enough to sense that their over-lording of organizations that retain the partisan stranglehold over the country is being undermined severely and it is only now, surprisingly, that they have begun public discussions on the benefits of non-partisan approaches to boost national performance.
    Despite political trends to mask populism as an excuse for the deterioration, there are some undeniable hard facts which can no longer remain hidden in Nepali popular politics. The fact is that it is by and large the educated who have fuelled the change. This country’s late transition from feudalism had, since the 1950s, preserved modernist partisan politics for the educated. A handy domestic experience is founf in the 1950 ‘Jayatu Sanskritam’ movement in Kathmandu that enabled Sanskrit students to go against the Ranas as feudals when their demands for better facilities were met with the Rana prime minister’s words that ‘Sanskrit was a dead language’. Be they educated Sanskrit students or those at tri-Chandra and elsewhere outside the country, it was organized students and products of Indian universities that succeeded in importing partisan politics and strategies to influence politics in the country ever since. Throughout the party-less Panchayat days partisan interests lay behind even such programs as the forceful encroachment of forests (Jhora Kandas) by a land-hungry population organized remotely from across the border. This is over and above the armed conflict fuelled oft and on from outside. Of course, the perpetual unrest of students at home were constant phenomenon begun at times with petty student scholarly demands for facilitated fees, scholarships, canteen prices and library books that almost inevitably concluded in anti-system protests and administrative clamp-downs.
    It is undeniable therefore that the entry of this political class into painstakingly built government and professional systems resulted in dual loyalties between the party and the job and the seemingly facilitated distortions of partisan recruitment has brought the state to a halt. How we are to de-wean ourselves from this entanglement is no doubt key to our future. Here, again, the problem demands solutions where constitutionalism must be supreme and this is not possible under the current constitution.


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