Politics of change

May 5, 2017 08:51 AM Gunjan Upadhyay


In life, change is usually not very welcome because it tends to cause upheavals and disrupts the security of the familiar. Politics, however, is an altogether different case. In fact, the whole practice of holding periodical elections in a democracy is to give people the chance to exercise that very right to change. In Nepal, the time is ripe now for change and for newcomers to shake up the political establishment. This sentiment has led a respected journalist to form his own party, young upstarts to try and rock the boat with their choice of candidates and, to a lesser extent, a former Prime Minister to reinvent himself into a new political force. 

Change is necessary because our politics is evolving from being occasionally farcical to downright dangerous. A case in point is the impeachment motion registered against Chief Justice Sushila Karki which really is just retaliation disguised as a constitutional measure. While the motivations for this motion are questionable and there may be aspects of geopolitics at play here, the truth is that for a long time now our established politicians had started to develop a sort of a ‘God’ complex spurred on by the apathy of the public. 

They had all gotten used to a certain degree of impunity in their political careers, using the administration, bureaucracy and security apparatus for their own ends and it’s no secret that they would be resistant to any change in the established order. After all, every single one of them has got skeletons in their cupboard and – as Messrs.’ Deuba and Dahal have demonstrated – they will do anything to keep that cupboard door shut.  

Despite the well-known fact that this odd political couple will do anything for their survival – they negotiated the tenure of the highest office in the land between themselves – using the impeachment as a cheap tool for one-upmanship is a new low, even for their normally rock bottom standards. It is this type of ‘mutually beneficial’ cross party complicity that demonstrates why there is a real need to – in the words of Donald Trump - ‘drain the swamp’.

Change is required because our leaders have stagnated and as a result so have our dreams. One look at the election manifestos of these political parties and you will find it full of the same old lofty goals – copied and pasted – that they have been peddling since the dawn of multiparty democracy in Nepal. And it’s not like they haven’t had a chance because the musical chairs that is our politics has afforded every Tom, Dick and Harry of every single party (seriously, count for yourselves) the chance to become PM. Yet here we are again in 2017, harboring the same old dreams and the same old complaints. 

It’s yet to be ascertained whether this ploy to try and impeach the chief justice will backfire or not but what it has done is left the general populace incredulous. Mrs Karki, for the laymen and the non-affiliated among us, represented a real agent of change – and not the token ones that the government frequently appoints and then heralds as an accomplishment. Unlike our current crop of ‘leaders’ she spoke through her decisions and was a credit to the judiciary that has for a long time been bogged down by a tangled web of different political interests.  There are lots of people like her, now more than ever, who are either choosing to use their positions to foster change or striving to reach a position where they can challenge the status quo. From advocate Om Prakash Aryal repeatedly challenging Lokman’s appointment, to Kulman Ghising bringing about a revolution in the NEA to the young mayoral hopeful Ranju Darshana, Nepal seems like it is in the mood for change. 

But this change isn’t coming without a fight because this ‘politics’ is ingrained in our system. Our country is divided along party lines and one only has to look at the visceral social media reactions after this impeachment fiasco to realize this fact. We will defend not what is good for the country but what is good for the party and this allied with our long standing fear of geopolitical machinations often clouds our judgment of real issues. This inability to look beyond our party’s flags and our kinship bonds when it comes to votes will probably pose the biggest challenge to bringing about change in the upcoming elections.  

We have a tendency of suffering fools gladly when they manipulate the system and a habit of then wondering how our leaders have the audacity to take us for fools. The accountability of our political system should be more important than party affiliations and whatever happens with the impeachment fiasco and the elections, this ‘God’ complex of our politicians has got to go. It’s about time they realized that their actions have consequences and they have to be accountable to us. Politics is changing and the citizenry want people that are more reflective of our aspirations and not old men with one foot already in their graves. There is no better opportunity than now to get this message across. Who knows if this change that we seek will be for the better but one thing is for sure – it certainly cannot be for worse. 

The writer loves traveling, writing, and good food when he is afforded an escape from the rat race. He can be contacted at gunjan.u@gmail.com


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