How do you assess a country’s political situation between elections? It’s probably through the media, the social media included. Nepal at this time is in the perfect in-between-the-elections phase to study politics outside the elections.
The last set of elections was held almost three years ago. The context was interesting.
Nepal entered the elections after more than a decade of transition politics marred by non-democratic politicking, power struggles, and brinkmanship.
The conflict and the transition era did two fundamental damages to Nepali politics. It normalized a state of non-performance for the polity in the name of the delicate situation. It even made acceptable what should have been considered a mockery of common sense—the voting for the post of prime minister was conducted inconclusively 17 times.
Such a ridiculous disregard for the imminent social and political problems was normalized, and almost established as the only thing that politics was supposed to be engaged in.
One other thing this transition politics did that is detrimental to the basic concept of constitutionalism and democracy, was the hijacking of authority by the top leaders in the name of High Level Political Mechanism. This became a means of consolidating power at the top, undemocratically, in all the parties. The fundamental feudal character of Nepali political parties became indomitable.
This kind of an ad-hoc arrangement stopped all avenues of growth for second-rung leaders in all major parties. As a result, the leaders of the next generation like Gagan Thapa and Yogesh Bhattarai, who should by now have been among the ones leading their parties, are still being treated like kids.
With a tedious decade-long limbo named transition politics over, Nepal had entered the elections with this permanent damage to democracy.
But Nepal’s public has been both wise and patient in treating the politicians. The armed struggle had scared the established urban elites enough without directly impacting their lives. In Kathmandu, it was considered like something happening not just in a remote area, but also in a remote era. The Kathmandu urban elite knows and believes that most of Nepal still lives two centuries behind, and it’s the main secret of their privileges. They get disproportionate access to resources meant for the whole country because of this.
The blockade happened in their living rooms, however. And it had a more lasting impact than the decade-long Maoist armed struggle or the political anarchy of more than a decade that followed.
So, when Nepal went into the elections, Modi was the villain, and Oli was the savior. But political stability was the driving force that consolidated people’s choice.
An overwhelming majority of almost two-thirds is wasted. There is almost no scope of a miraculous face saving now, with more than half the tenure of this government gone by in cruel skullduggery and careless comical theatrics.
The covid crisis has exposed to the general public that accepting non-democratic, incompetent manipulators as the country’s leaders costs us jobs, wealth, and lives too.
But what do representative voices in the social media indicate? People have no hope from our politicians. And the politicians do not shy from putting the blame back on the people.
Will there be a fundamental shift in the nature of our mainstream political parties in three years before the next elections? There is nothing to suggest such a miracle is coming.
People have been wise, in general, in the elections. They know they can’t trust politicians to be truly honest and non-corrupt, but in the larger scheme of things, they have been running the affairs of the state even amid this chaos.
But it’s probably time to read between the lines and question the fundamentals of the system that our politics has evolved into. The nexus of the feudal power structure within the parties and the country’s criminal gangs has been exposed beyond doubt in front of the people.