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Editorial: Right to reject

Editorial: Right to reject

Former Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal writes to the MCC Headquarters pledging support for its Nepal compact. Back home, he denounces the same compact to shore up his communist base. Another former prime minister, KP Oli, someone who pushed for the compact’s parliamentary endorsement while in power, now decides to sit on the fence.

The current prime minister, Sher Bahadur Deuba, has always backed the compact’s endorsement. But to get the support to do so from his coalition partners he also has to agree to impeach the chief justice. The old Panchayat stalwart Kamal Thapa swears by the Holy Gita to never again break away from the mother RPP ship. But when defeated in the contest for party chair, he abandons it pronto. How do people trust these two-faced politicians? And what kind of a political culture are they trying to establish?

 It would perhaps not be unfair to say that almost all the important political forces of Nepal have lost their ideological moorings. The once-revolutionary Maoist party is now no different to the traditional parliamentary parties it liked to denounce. And it would be a stretch to call CPN-UML, the corporatist machine, a ‘communist’ party. Nepali Congress too has thrown in its lot with free-market capitalism, having long forgotten its social-democracy roots. With every political outfit and politician out to grab power and make a fast buck to win the ever-expensive elections, Nepali politics has lost its direction.

 The drawn-out MCC saga has again exposed our politicians’ willingness to even trade away national interests to get a leg-up on political opponents. Everything is negotiable—and not just with forces within the country. Our politicians will also readily do the bidding of foreign powers. In this situation, what we need is a mechanism for the public to express its disappointment with politicians. As we argue in this week’s ‘What if…?’ column, one way of doing so would be to inject the ‘right to reject’ option in ballot papers for elections to all three tiers. Let us see how many Nepalis, if given a choice, would vote in favor of a new set of political leaders.