Let’s start with democracy. Let’s ask those who are currently at the helm of our nation’s political realm whether they truly believe in its principles. When we look at the manner in which all political parties operate, from far right to far left, we see very little democracy within them. A handful of top leaders decide not only the macro-level strategies but even the micro-level decisions, with very little debate and dialogue with the party rank and file. Yes there are national level meetings of political parties with thousands of party cadre and faithful filling tents for many days, but there again the same handful of top leaders give long speeches and present well-articulated papers on their action plans, with very little opportunity for bottom-up feedback. And what’s this fixation on ‘consensus’? When our political leaders came ask for our vote they never asked us all to sit together and decide through consensus who should represent us. So while consensus is great if one can get it, in our case the quest for consensus has become the biggest hurdle and detrimental to democracy itself. The ultimate example of lack of democracy in the name of seeking consensus was displayed on the night our Constituent Assembly was dissolved, for on that fateful night a handful of leaders did not even feel it was necessary to call into session the 601 member CA, if not to discuss and debate the way forward, then to say at least say ‘Thank you’ for their efforts over the last four years. So what democratic values can we expect of such leaders? While our political parties may have done a great job in talking democracy, they all have a long way to go in walking the talk.
But it’s not just the last four years in which we have seen disappointing delivery by our political parties. When was the last time, regardless of our personal political affiliations or beliefs, that we felt pleased and proud of government delivery? How sad is that! It is the same people, with the same thoughts, and the same way of working who have been at the helm of political affairs over the course of our modern history. Take a moment to ponder: if we keep walking down the same path year after year, why should we be surprised when we reach the same destination time after time!
So where do we go from here? The silver lining in the dark cloud that has covered us all after the dissolution of the CA is the fact that now we the people get an opportunity to finally have our say again, and that say will be our ballot. All Nepalis are waiting to not only say, but shout our disappointment and disillusionment at the political parties and political leadership. But, while we the people are ready to voice our discontentment, are there any amongst us who are ready to step out of our comfort zones and step up to the task of forming a new political front, to take on the challenges that face us as a nation, to maximize on the opportunities that lie ahead, to talk a new talk and walk a new walk in the realm of ‘Nepali Politics’? The ‘normal Nepali citizens’—unskilled, semi-skilled, skilled or professional—have consistently shown great resilience and dedication, through insurgencies, instabilities, power shortages, all sorts of uprising and bandhs to continue every day to do their best to etch out a livelihood and secure a better future for ourselves. True leadership is displayed not when everything is given to you on a silver platter, but when you have to go out there and deal with whatever is thrown at you and still get through to the other side, and this has been displayed every day, from Mechi to Mahakali, Himal, Pahad, Terai, Madesh by the millions of Nepalis. But unfortunately despite extension upon extension we could not see this leadership on display in our political arena.
Now the time has come for those of us who have had the exposure, education and experience in our respective fields to chart a new path so that we as a nation are able to arrive at a new, a better destination. For this, there has to be a paradigm shift on two fronts. The first I see happening on an unprecedented scale: loss of confidence and hope of Nepalis cutting across ethnic, economic and regional lines on the current political lot and their wish for ‘New Blood’ in Nepali politics. That brings us to the second paradigm, the ‘New Blood’ in Nepali politics: who are they, where are they and are they ready to step out of their comfort zones and step up to the task at hand? Most importantly, this new blood must talk a new talk, and walk a new walk in the realm of Nepali politics, their goal not to win elections but to begin with, to formulate and articulate a vision for Nepal and all Nepalis that goes beyond who will be the prime minister and ministers.
FAILINGS OF NEPALI POLITICS
A growing number of us believe that the historic non-performance of politicians has opened a window of opportunity for an inclusive group of individuals to step up to the task and show our nation a new type of politics, delivered by value-based politicians dedicated and determined to deliver results on a national level, much like they have been delivering on an institutional level. If this window of opportunity is lost, then the opportunity cost of not doing something now, of choosing to remain within our cocoons of prosperity, will most certainly be expensive for us and our future generations. There is much dialogue and discussion on this issue, between individuals who are excelling in their respective fields as doctors, engineers, farmers, businessmen, bankers, social workers, educators and a host of other professions; centered around the fact that we have to do something, we have to be catalysts of change, we can’t let the status quo continue. But the question before us all is who is going to bell the cat? While we are all ready to support, who is ready to step up and take the bull by the horns and ‘lead’?
While there are currently some 20 new political parties waiting to be registered at the Election Commission, in most cases it’s just old wine in new bottles. The solution will not come in shuffling the same people around, it has to come through injection of new blood, with a new group of people stepping into the arena to not only play the game, but also change the way the game is played. We have to have new leaders establish a new political front that talks a new talk and walks a new walk. I write this piece today because I know like me there are millions of Nepali brothers and sisters from all castes, ethnicities, economic strata, regional origins and political beliefs, who are thinking along similar lines. I wanted to let you know two things. First, you are not alone. Second, if all of us just keep thinking and don’t start acting soon those who have done what they have done in the past, will continue to do the same to us in the days and years ahead. Carpe Diem! The time has come to seize the day today so that we can ensure our tomorrows are not a repetition of our yesterdays. The author is CEO, Megha Bank