January 14, 2019 02:00 AM NPT
When Bibeksheel Sajha Party Nepal (BSPN) split, it took many people by alarm. Not because Nepalis are not used to with split and merger of political parties. From Nepali Congress to Communist to Madhes-based parties to royalist Rastritya Prajatantra Party, split and merger have become defining traits of Nepali political system. Some of these political outfits have split multiple times and come together multiple times too but BSPN was supposed to be different. The leaders of this party had vowed to become different and behave differently from all other political parties in Nepal. This is why their split was not expected. It would not be an overstatement to say that BSPN had become an alternative force. On many crucial issues, including those related to corruption and misrule, BSPN spoke the mind of the people. They were the ones to speak vocally against Lok Man Singh Karki’s wrongdoings as CIAA head, they stood against the move taken by the political parties to impeach Supreme Court Justice Sushila Karki and they relentlessly supported the cause of medical education reform movement spearheaded by Dr Govinda KC. BSPN in the parliament and from the public forum have been consistently speaking for transparency, accountability and rule of law—three key pillars of good governance—on which the mainstream political parties have failed to do much. It is for this reason that Bibeksheel received popular votes under proportional representation category in a number of constituencies in the last elections. The party stood as a significant force in national politics in just few years of its birth. That was no small feat.
Now reconciliation between two splitting factions looks unlikely. Of the 35 central committee members, 16 members including Ujjwal Thapa have filed an application at the Election Commission (EC) to register a new party named Bibeksheel Nepali Dal (BND). Influential and popular leaders like Ranju Darshana, Milan Pandey, Biraj Bhakta Shrestha and Ramesh Paudyal will no longer be with BSPN. At the heart of the split seems to be clash of ego between Ujjwal Thapa and Rabindra Mishra and some ideological differences between the two but neither side seems to be happy with the development. BSPN Spokesperson Dr Surya Raj Acharya literally broke into tears while briefing the media about the split. Notwithstanding, it would be suicidal for both BSPN and Bibeksheel Nepali Dal (BND) if they give up on vital issues of accountability, transparency and the rule of law.
The two factions need to realize their advocacy for justice, human rights and rule of law had made them popular among the people. Many young people were attracted to the party which was unheard of in recent times. BSPN spoke out against decisions that were deemed harmful to our young democracy. If these parties fail to ignite imagination of young people, it will have lasting impact in our political system. They must now work harder to keep the hope alive. When a political party—whatever their size—stops raising vital public issue, it paves the road for its downfall, rather than when it gets split. Bibeksheel parties should raise the voice of conscience—as their name stands for—and should not let it die out, whatever the differences.