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Death of ideological politics in Nepal

Death of ideological politics in Nepal
Ideological politics often arise in response to certain social or cultural issues or values. However, as these values change over time, the relevance and appeal of certain ideological positions may diminish. Then, it cultivates political polarization, cultural conflict, social discrimination, economic stagnation and complete division of the people among rival factions, and the politicians retain power among themselves. But it fails to adapt to changing circumstances to effectively address new challenges losing relevance and support initiating decay of its own. Additionally, changing demographics also impact patterns of political supporters—ultimately, forcing it to die out simply because of the failure of gaining enough popular support. Economic, social, or political crises are critical ingredients of any society. They can undermine the credibility of ideological movements and lead to their decline and implant a new dominant ideology that causes crumbling of the existing sociopolitical structures. Then people begin to question the incumbent system. Again, people also get fed up with the ideological conflicts among the leaders of conflicting ideologies. The ideological politics are mostly divisive and contentious, leading to social and political unrest wreaking havoc in people’s lives. Over time, generational changes immensely affect this process.

Nepal has a complex and dynamic political landscape, with multiple parties and ideologies competing for power and influence. As the new constitution was promulgated in 2015, it ushered some changes and brought both new opportunities and new challenges. Nepal needs a gradual shift toward a more pragmatic, issue-based approach to governance involving a greater focus on addressing the country's economic, social, and environmental challenges, rather than ideological posturing and identity politics.

The emergence of the Nepal Communist Party (NCP) in 2018 was seen as a sign of continued relevance of ideological politics in the country. However, the party was short-lived, and it split into two factions in 2020, with each faction accusing the other of deviating from communist ideology. The current political landscape in Nepal is characterized by a mix of ideological and pragmatic politics. While there are still parties that adhere to specific ideologies, such as NC, CPN UML, CPN (Maoist Centre) and Janata Samajwadi Party among others who have, to the larger extent, failed to charm the electorate. In South Asia, BNP, CPB and JIB in Bangladesh, DMK ADMK, CPI, CPI(M), INC, SAD among others in India, CPN-UML, NC, RPP and others in Nepal, ML-N, PPP-P and others in Pakistan, SLFP, UNP, SLMC among others in Sri Lanka all suffer socio-political and ideological stagnation. Many countries that have embraced communism, socialism, or other ideological systems have experienced economic stagnation, social unrest, and political instability. The rise of technology and social media has led to a fragmentation of political discourse and a growing distrust of established political parties and institutions. Some of the ideology-based political parties in some corners of the world are trying to preserve their destiny, while most of them are gradually dying out. Since the middle of the 20th century, Nepali people have been witnessing a sea change in socio-political, cultural and economic patterns of their life. They saw the expiry of the Rana regime that ruled Nepal from 1846 to 1951. It was characterized by authoritarianism, repression, and the concentration of power in the hands of a small ruling elite. Growing public discontent, external pressure, internal power struggles and rise of democratic and progressive forces dismissed it mercilessly, and the multiple party democratic system was introduced. Then the Panchayat system which was established in Nepal in 1962, following a coup led by King Mahendra, again concentrated power in the hands of a small group of elites. However, the popular discontent, economic stagnation, international pressure and the rise of democratic and progressive forces toppled the 30-year-long direct rule of monarchs in Nepal—a turning point in Nepal's history that paved the way for the country's transition to a more democratic and inclusive society. Though it emphasized industrial development, promotion of agriculture and rural infrastructure, including roads, schools, and health facilities leading to an increase in agricultural productivity and a reduction in poverty rates in rural areas, it could not survive longer. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Nepal saw growing popular discontent with the monarchy, which was seen as corrupt, autocratic, and out of touch with the needs and aspirations of the Nepali people. Nepal's monarchy was increasingly isolated on the international stage, with many countries and organizations criticizing the government's poor human rights record and lack of democracy. The decentralization of power, fiscal decentralization, promotion of local entrepreneurship, agriculture development, social development, and employment opportunities could not sustain the system and it perished. The Maoist insurgency that began in 1996 posed a significant challenge to the monarchy's authority and legitimacy, and the government's harsh response to the insurgency further fueled public anger and resentment toward the monarchy. In 2006, a mass popular movement led by political parties, civil society groups, and student organizations succeeded in toppling King Gyanendra's authoritarian regime and restoring democracy in Nepal. Following the success of the popular movement, political parties negotiated with the monarchy to transition Nepal to a federal democratic republic. Later, Nepal abolished its monarchy in 2008 and established a federal democratic republic. However, the rise of populist politics also promotes polarization, disruption of political institutions and practices but also enables simplification of complex problems. It can erode trust in institutions and defend the corrupt and self-serving elite, but encourages greater political participation and civic engagement of the previously marginalized segments of the demography. Thus, an increasing number of voters have now broken the chains of all ideologies—the heroism of the sovereign citizen and the beauty of democracy. No political power is comfortable anymore without a direct link to citizen-life through good governance and public service delivery. Legacy politics, nepotism or any form of favoritism have no longer been enough to win people's votes. Now the voters believe those who have greater knowledge of contemporary global communities and true apprehension of the country, the people at home and abroad, and those who have yet to be tested. Common citizens are attracted to new parties and faces. Misfortune looms large over the fate and longevity of existing ideology-based political parties in Nepal.