Nepal on Wednesday has entered the sixth anniversary of the declaration of republic. But the power remains in the same hands as before. Only faces have changed. Intentions have not. The inherited undemocratic culture prevails. The deep-rooted undemocratic behavior continues as before. More tragically, no whereabouts of the disappeared Nepalis (estimated around 1,500) have been made public during these eight-years of the ongoing peace process. The peace process formally ends with the drafting of a new constitution, which remains to be done.
The current political crisis originating from the lack of political parties’ moral sense of responsibility towards the historical promises documented in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed between the then Maoist rebels and the Seven Party Alliance (SPA) on 21 November 2006 still keeps people hopeful of the emergence of a new political leadership from among the existing parties that have dominated the political scenario so far.
The CPA, though a mandatory document for the peace process stakeholders to follow by letters, has not become a matter of serious consideration and review in terms of its implementation and progress. Who to hold on to power and use all the available resources while suppressing the other sides has become a core concern for the parties. Consequently, the vital peace process agenda of drafting an inclusive and federal constitution as a major tool to manage the country’s armed conflict, active from February 1996 to May 2006, has remained extremely overshadowed. Today’s anniversary of the declaration of republic in Nepal has sounded more ironical and bleak amidst such political doldrums worsened by the major parties’ accelerating moral degradation caused by their surrender to money and luxuries.
Trivialization of Republic
A general empirical observation indicates that most of the Nepalis with undergraduate education only know that republic means absence of active monarchy. They are unable to expect any distinct theoretical characteristics they would seek in the republican political system. All they expect in general is personal freedom and employment according to their qualifications and choices. Similarly, most of them never bothered to read the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and the Interim Constitution. They appear to have thought that reading the peace agreement and the Interim Constitution is the job of political workers. This empirically obtained information discloses why most of the people still remain apathetic to their own sufferings. Nepal’s political parties and intellectual moderators appear very weak in persuading hand-to-mouth people to seek to know something specific about the ongoing peace process and its fundamentals.
In this context, Maoist party workers in the eastern and western rural areas are more worried about the peace process, which, they believe, has already been derailed as per the intentions of those adamantly rigid against democratic changes in the country. They take much interest in the peace process because they were directly involved in armed conflict. They have seriously realized the need of peace in the rest of their life. But the Maoist party workers living in Kathmandu and with better access to their central leadership seem to have enjoyed their own rhetorical communication and that produced by their leaders at the helm. In the villages of Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur, supporters of the former Maoist rebels, the Nepali Congress and the Emaalay (UML) admit to not having seen any proper dialogue on the definitions of republic, federalism and conflict management in the country. Their political consciousness is apparently confined to partisan quarrels and the subsequent reactions.
This real scenario based on the empirical observation and bottom conversations at grassroots level could be a clue to understanding the trivialization of republic declared on 28 May 2008.
Is this the republic that the political parties, definitely including the Maoists, understand? If they are misinformed, it is urgent that they understand it from a genuine perspective of republic.
The declared republic would not have been trivialized if the power that replaced feudal monarchy had:
- Confiscated all the illicit properties, including land.
- Dismantled all the feudal foundations rooted in the educational system, financial system, judiciary and the rule application apparatuses that protected the privileges of lords continuously overruling the written rules and systems.
- Dismantled the nationwide networks of smugglers and blackmarketeers that de facto rule Nepal, captivating people’s mind and freedom of expression.
- Made its own moral character transparent, especially as regards its relationship with the business entity and foreign countries.
- Stopped the all-out privatization of drinking water from which crime-minded money mongers have hugely profited by selling unhealthy and unprocessed water for exorbitant prices.
- Taken actions against human traffickers who believe that human beings are beef to sell in the international market.
- Had issued a decree through the Legislative-Parliament to completely close the Indo-Nepal border and apply the international passport system.
- Managed a public transport system, which is a vital component of people’s time management and national productivity.
- Applied a strategy to curb the shameless mafia-ization of education and health services in the country.
- Had staunchly stood in favor of the transformative agenda clearly cited in the Preamble of the CPA as well as in its body.
Counter to people’s expectations from the declaration of republic, the leading parties, viz., the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), the Nepali Congress and the Unified Marxist-Leninist (UML) or also referred to as Emaalay in brief, have kept many things nontransparent as to why they have been lingering around without creating an environment for drafting a new constitution as stipulated in the CPA. They have not worked to create a forum for discourses and analysis on peace accord contents that need to be unavoidably incorporated appropriately in the new constitution. The Baidya faction, the split-out of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), has become a bargaining chip used by the Nepali Congress and the UML. Thus, none of them seem to have concentrated on explaining the meaning of republic and federalism so that people could grasp some idea about the accepted version of changes in the country. This trivialization of republic, accompanied by the steepy moral degradation of the political leaderships, should not be made an excuse for stifling democracy and human rights.
Civil war is a huge global industry. There are global producers and traders of weapons, especially targeted at the third world countries. Just for the sake of such global producers and traders, the Nepalis cannot afford another civil war. There may be first-time war investors from outside of Nepal. There will not be the direct form of war investment like the one that happened in Egypt, Libya and Syria. Egyptians, Libyans and Syrians need democracy and human rights. The more peaceful the political movement, the greater its positive impact and productivity. The greater the investment in the full-scale civil war, the worse its long-term consequences. You can and will see such consequences in those countries. Therefore, should we keep the Nepalis alert-minded of such consequences and the ill-motives of war, there is not likelihood of another civil war though some mercenaries in the plains of Nepal are estimated to have been planning for such a war in the name of separation or territorial independence.
Amidst such possibilities, the Nepali society needs to find a way out for managing their national affairs. As political leadership is not an overnight construction, the experienced, ethical political workers from all the major parties, need to create a common core working force to defend the moral values of republican democracy. While the decomposing and merging processes of political leaderships will continue, the Nepali mass media should emphasize on reporting from the ground and on bringing out primary information for increasing people’s judgmental power. Merely confining people to parroted speeches at a news conference in cities or hotels will not equip audiences with authentic and objective information.
The future direction of Nepal mainly depends on how the majority of Nepalis respond to the crises created knowingly and unknowingly by their existing political leaderships.