It is said that politics is the game of possibilities. All possible alternatives are sought in politics, and sometime politicians even make adventures to find something out of the impossible. An attempt to seek something from the impossible is called a political misadventure and risky gamble, which, in most cases, is avoided because it is often anti-current and against the prevailing sentiment of the mass. But such misadventures and risky steps may be necessary at certain critical periods.
Most politicians and leaders do not normally choose to take such a risky step for they do not want to lose their vote bank and endanger their political career. But some take such risky steps by even putting their political career at stake. They do it for the overall interest of the country and the people.
Test of leaders
In normal circumstances, everything goes in a normal way, in which politicians float in accordance with the wave of the times and popular sentiment. This is the general nature of politicians and political parties. At normal times and in normal circumstances, politicians are never tested and tried. The real test of politicians comes only at the time of a crisis. Most politicians often try to take personal and partisan advantage out of a crisis. But statesmen never do so at the expense of broader national interest. Statesmen rise above their partisan interest and put the country and the national interest above the party and politics. That is the reason why statesmen are revered whereas politicians are often criticised and at times hated. This is the primary difference between politicians and statesmen.
Nepal is currently in its worst political crisis and deadlock. The country is caught in a cobweb of political complexities and uncertainty. Given the present situation, no immediate and tangible solution seems to be in sight. Nobody knows what course our politics will take. Even political pundits and analysts are unable to predict what exactly will happen. Everyday, newer developments take place that make things more uncertain and confused. This situation has arisen because the country produced a bunch of leaders and politicians but not a statesman.
Now the parties and leaders are busy in the blame game. They are passing the buck of responsibility and blame onto others for the present sorry state of Nepal. As a matter of fact, all parties, big or small, are responsible for the present situation. But their share varies on the basis of the size and strength of the party. The bigger the party, the bigger its share in the countryís political crisis. But no party is prepared to accept the blame.
We have parties of different hues, ideology, political orientation and background. We have rightist parties, centrist parties and leftist parties. There are feudal forces, landlords and bourgeoisies. We have parties and people that advocate capitalism, comprador capitalism and bureaucratic capitalism. Communists and socialists are also in abundance. We have progressive, nationalist, rationalist and patriotic forces. We have regionalist forces, too. And we have both racists and rationalists as well.
In such a small country, we have all kinds of parties and political beliefs, and they are practicing and functioning without any kind of restriction and hindrance. There is great political diversity and pluralism for which we Nepalese must be proud of. Despite the diversity and political differences, all groups, belonging to different political hues and faiths, are living together, co-existing, cooperating and collaborating. But some efforts are being made from certain quarters to disrupt this age-old social and cultural harmony.
The issue concerning the ethnic, lingual and cultural rights and freedom is, no doubt, genuine. We have already accepted Nepal as a multi-ethnic, multi-lingual and multi-cultural country, which the interim constitution has fully guaranteed. Constitutionally, all languages and cultures being spoken and practiced by all the ethnic communities are to be treated and developed equally. But some sinister attempts are being made from certain quarters to politicise the ethnic, cultural and lingual issues and divide the society. There is no shade of doubt that the people hitherto oppressed, excluded, secluded and exploited must get opportunities in the new set up, for which a special constitutional guarantee must be made.
We have accepted federalism which has already been incorporated in the interim constitution. All parties, except a couple of fringe ones, are committed to the federal set up. Despite the national commitment, there are differences on the federal model and the number of federal provinces. Fierce debate is going on in the country on the issue concerning the federal model. The debate is mainly whether the country is to be federated on identity basis or viability.
Those who are pressing for identity-based federal provinces have focused mainly on ethnicity as the sole basis of creating the federal provinces. The others are pushing for viability as the basis for the federal states. They are of the view that ethnicity is not the sole identity of the people, the real identity is geography, national heritage, resources and culture. This perceptional difference has created a gridlock in Nepalís political and constitution making process. This issue must be settled at the earliest on the basis of consensus among at least the four major political forces.
The parties are, of course, to be blamed for the current political deadlock. But the top leadership of all parties is particularly responsible for the failure to find an amicable solution to the problem and navigate the country to a safer and more peaceful and prosperous condition. The main problem behind the present political stalemate is the deficit of trust among the parties.
We have accepted the multi-party political system. Accepting multi-party democracy means accepting the existence and role of the different political parties and interest groups. We should, therefore, also accept the existence of political groups with different ideologies, and their role and activities. Based on their programmes, policies and performance, parties are established among the people. But each and every party or group claims to be the genuine and sole representative of the people and designates the other as the enemy of the people.
Just look at the analysis of the political parties about the other forces. The largest political force - UCPN-Maoist - has designated the Nepali Congress as a rightist and reactionary party that works in the interest of feudals, landlords and the capitalist class and grossly ignores the interests and rights of the working class people, including workers and peasants. In the eyes of the Maoists, the CPN-UML is a revisionist and rightist party whereas the Madhesi parties are a sectarian force. In the same manner, the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML dub the Maoists as an ultra communist and authoritarian party that has no faith in democracy but wants to establish an one-party communist regime in Nepal. Thus, the parties have perceptional differences on each and every issue, and they suspect one another in every political move.
As a result, a handful of senior leaders of the major four political forces are trying to settle issues grossly ignoring the popularly elected forum of the Constituent Assembly. Some of the leaders, who are involved in settling the constitutional issues outside the Constituent Assembly, are the ones who were rejected by the people during the election. Since they were rejected by the people for the constitution-making process, what moral, political and legal authority do they have to discuss in the dark room on the constitutional issues?
It seems the leadership of the major political parties has no faith in the legitimate procedures but is trying to make the Constituent Assembly their rubber stamp to endorse their decision made outside. This practice is not only undemocratic but also a great insult to the people who elected their representatives to write the new constitution. Here lies the fundamental problem.
The issue of the new constitution must be resolved through debate and discussion among the members of the Constituent Assembly. If consensus is to be sought on constitutional issues, it must be done in the Constituent Assembly. There should not be any attempt to make decisions on constitutional issues outside the Constituent Assembly. All issues now must be openly discussed in the Constituent Assembly which is competent enough to find an amicable solution and come up with a new constitution.