Ideology and Politics in Nepal

Published On: March 8, 2023 09:30 AM NPT By: Naren Khatiwada

The ideology, a set of ideas to look at world affairs, undoubtedly plays very significant roles in personal and organizational affairs. Indeed, it helps a person to make the right decision and act in a certain way. Political sector, a major driving force to govern all the affairs of society, is a commonplace wherein ideology is mostly practiced to promote the common interest and wellbeing at large.

In the global arena, during the cold war period ( 1947-1991),there used to be hot political debate on ideology among the intellectuals, politicians and cadres, with the USA and USSR advocating democracy and state-centric socialism respectively. Apparently, the focus of the former one was to strengthen the ideas of democracy and individual rights whereas the latter one was to social justice and communalism. Yet, following the dissolution of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) in 1991, the public discourse over the ideology seems to have faded away even in global context too. Although the West claimed that liberal democracy and free market had triumphed over communism, recent events in various parts of the world suggest otherwise. Therefore, given the ideological crisis on the global level, it is hard to imagine how the trajectory of the world would go down the road.

Nepali Congress and Nepal Communist Party, established in the period of struggling against the Rana Regime in the 1950s, were determined in their philosophy and ideology. Nepali Congress, in the leadership of BP Koirala, had even adopted the ideology called democratic socialism through the General Convention held in 2012 BS, Birgunj. During the period of struggling against the Panchayat regime (2017-2047 BS), the leaders and cadres of Nepali Congress and various communist parties seem to have indulged in the debate of political ideology and philosophy between the intra and inter parties. The ideology adopted by them had created optimism among the cadres and general people.

However, with the restoration of democracy in 1990, the debate over ideology steadily has been replaced by power struggles between political parties, both within and among them, often conducted in a Machiavellian manner.Instead of involving in political ideological debate and actions, cadres of political parties, as in their leaders, engaged in plot and tricks to grab the power, money and status by using any means.

The relation like client and patron between leader and cadre has been dominant in Nepalese politics as in various parts of fragile democratic countries. In such client patron relations, leaders regularly expect the support from cadres for legitimacy to remain in power whereas cadres expect opportunities and services from their leaders.  In doing so, the rule of law and systems are manipulated to meet the vested interest.

It is evident that the idea of leftism has been in the political discourse even before Karl Marx was born. While leftism might have different interpenetration among the intellectuals, the crux of it is to promote social justice along with democratic system. The person can only be left if he or she advocates social justice and acts in such a way. However, in the context of Nepal, every member associated with communist parties are called left without judging their thinking and actions in relation to social justice. If scrutinized, there are a myriad of cadres coming from communist parties whose thinking, and actions are absolutely against the principles of social justice.

Unsurprisingly, the leaders and cadres of Nepali Congress also recognize the members of communist parties as left one without any indicators. What is more striking is that anyone could be democratic if he or she is associated with Nepali Congress. The root cause of this ambiguity is the lack of the political discourse on ideology between inter and intra party politics.

The election alliance and present coalition government also demonstrate the pathetic situation with respect to ideology among the dominant political parties. The new political parties and its cadres are no exception than dominant ones. Despite alternatives expectations from society, revolving around the personality of their leaders has been the predominant feature of cadres of new parties, expecting some opportunities in the party and organs of the state.

Politics without definitive ideology may not drive the society into a positive path. Hence, the dominant political parties including Nepali Congress, CPN UML and CPN Moist Center should revive their history of debating on ideology and taking stand on issues rather than running behind crude power by any hook or crook. Furthermore, new political parties should also delineate their political ideologies rather than lingering hither and thither for political gains. 

The author is associated with Dialogue and Research Center (DRC)

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