Can Congress Create Charisma?

Published On: December 18, 2021 07:45 AM NPT By: Dr Atindra Dahal

The 14th General Convention of Nepali Congress (NC) has reelected Deuba as the party president for four years, at least. Despite many big-heads opposing him, eventually, they grew mysteriously submissive and supportive for helping him rise to the post.

Besides, this Congress has marked a significantly paradigmatic shift as the leadership has largely shifted to the younger generation like Gurung, Thapa and Sharma. A team has bagged the first success of its kind in an internal competition of the party after a long time. For about 50 out of 75 years, the active politics and leadership of Congress was somehow synonymously perceived as a family enterprise of the Koirala clan. Central leadership along with major office bearers would be from the Koirala dynasty, which has almost suffered a clean-sweep now. Since noticeable change has taken place, people are with intensified expectations of many deep-structured changes to take place in the party, here onward.

Party politics

Parties are major driving forces of politics and democracy. The strength of the parties and consistent correction on them conversely value cementing public faith in politics. But, for a couple of decades, in our nation, the trust in parties is depleting owing to objectionably deteriorating performance. The Nepali Congress is not an exception in this light. Every time when people either altered or abolished the existing ruler then mandated otherwise force to take the chance, the only expectation of peace, progress, prosperity and economic development of the nation were the major reasons behind. For the same, time and again, people decisively rated and ranked Congress to be the leading party in Nepal.

As parties largely failed to address public sentiment, people have harbored heavy angst and stricture toward them. Nepali Congress too has its own share of the blame. In outcome, the party, which had a two-thirds majority in the election of 2015 BS and had two governments of absolute majority in the period of democracy after 2046 BS, now has scaled down to mere an under-sized second party though serendipitously got to lead the government.

Congress had repeated opportunities nonetheless there were not miles reaching memorable initiatives taken to empower and strengthen the nation's progress. Rather people suffered much and relatively went meager in the last 30 years.

In the same period, our neighbors have achieved an enviable level of development. Both India and China are emerging economies and leading world powers as one is the largest democracy and the other the largest socialist country in the world. Countries in our vicinity like Taiwan, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Vietnam and others have managed to command exceptionally exponential economic growth. They are called Tiger Economies. The exchange rate of the Thai Bhat to Nepali currency has become 25 times stronger compared to us in the last 25 years. Reports show that South Korea, near about 50 years back, had a lower PCI index than that of Nepal but now has a per capita income of USD 50,000. So many countries today rank top on the human development index given their vast progress in economic, social, political, and cultural reconstruction in the last two decades. But we are on the reverse track and have inadmissibly misused the time in name of firstly the insurgency and secondly the transition. Despite frequent political changes and various sorts of power experimentations, economic stagnation is stand-still and public expectations are due. 

The progress and civilization of a nation is a multiple joint-venture task where the role from every commoner to leader counts. The permanent institutions of a nation i.e. the judiciary, police, bureaucracy, other professionals too should share this mission. Above all, an elected government of the nation has a leading and decisive contribution to it. Every claim or credit for any of the outcomes rightly goes to it. Thus, the Congress has to admit the first and greatest responsibility of having our nation at the juncture of stagnation, fluctuation and at a crossroads since it has ruled the country for a long time.

Democracy won’t command dignity and bear respect from people unless economic prosperity is assured. The people care for financial progress over the political upheavals and change of rulers. They need work, nor the mere words. And Congress has to admit its role in the fiasco because it was in a position to do so though it considerably failed to do that. And this abject failure is the reason why people ceased trusting this party.

Still the comparative position of Congress is better on ground of fashion of split among communist parties inside the nation. The international political pressure and discussion too are anti-communist. Scholars take lopsided practices and mostly come with texts which intentionally discourage socialist schools of thought. Publications like Geoffrey Kabaservice’s Rule and Ruin, Chris Mooney’s The Republican Brain and Mike Lofgren’s The Party’s Over from America are world-wide broached in the very mission. Thus, Congress has national and international favor too but it has not been able to cash in on it and command craft till today. Hope it happens now with a substantial change in its leadership.

Hope so!

People believe in a party if and only if it can come with programs that can change the fate of the masses. Not mere laws, rather parties have to come with a mission and actions to lift the lives of people. If there are politicians with that spirit, the faith in parties can be rebuilt. Modi did so in India for BJP. Tony Blair revived the glory of the Labour Party and Franklin D Roosevelt did the same for the Democrats. They had a clear vision to transform the nation through the party’s action plan. Parties in Nepal seem seriously failing to generate such warm optimism in people as they don’t have crystal clear blueprints of transferring the nation and making the country a beautiful place for safe, sound, secured and proud living. Congress too has no competitively remarkable note on this till now.

Sometimes, a country may reel with bad parties and worst leaders but no exercise can be made to seek other ways of optional force instead. The only correction, which can be made, is correcting parties and rectifying leaders’ attitude. Democracy can never be imagined in absence of parties and politicians. Thus, those must be strengthened. 

As the Nepali Congress has a remarkable shift, let’s hope it will be able to deconstruct its discourse. The party’s new leadership has to make it overcome inaction, debacle and gross failure. The people are to be assured that it best carries the programs to address the mass sentiment then revive the glory of being Nepali.

In the minimum, Congress should be able to manifest the ways of assuring speedy economic progress, supplant the nation from illusively hyped remittance-based economy to a self-generated sustainable economy, hit the problem of unemployment and make the party work in bringing significant changes in the daily lives of the people. The newly-elected young office-bearers, who have often reiterated the passion to restructure the party, have time to adduce the commitment and competencies for strengthening democratic norms and values. If dared, Congress can deconstruct and dignify glory. Congress was at a crossroads; let’s hope, the new team equips it with modern action plans so that the people can navigate from hopelessness, haplessness and helplessness to unchallengeable hilarity.


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