A youth threw shoes at Chairperson of the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) Pushpa Kamal Dahal at City Hall in Kathmandu on Sunday. Dahal narrowly escaped the attack. The incident occurred when Dahal was coming back to his seat after making a speech at the program organized to mark the first death anniversary of communist leader Bharat Mohan Adhikari. The youth who committed this offense has been identified as Ratan Tiruwa, 22, from Jumla, whose father was a former Maoist combatant. Tiruwa is reported to have been angry when Dahal started speaking about class struggle. This, however, is the second such attack targeted at Dahal. In 2012, Dahal was slapped by a former Maoist fighter, Padam Kunwar, when he was exchanging greetings at a tea reception organized by his party. Again, Dahal is not the only leader to be attacked in public place. In September 2012, then Nepali Congress president Sushil Koirala was attacked by his own party cadres at a program. Jhala Nath Khanal, then chairman of CPN-UML, was slapped on his face by one Devi Prasad Regmi in Sunsari. While attack on leaders by cadres is condemnable by all means, this should be taken as the rising anger and frustration among people against the failure of leaders to address people’s aspirations for employment, delivery and development.
Largely, such incidents occur when the cadres become deeply disillusioned with their leaders. And they become disillusioned with the leaders when the leaders fail to fulfill the promises made to the people. First, there is a tendency among the leaders to make just any kind of promise for votes during the election. They promise jobs and development but when they get to the power, they fail to fulfill those promises. Party leaders, who stand at the receiving end of public anger, tend to dismiss the cases by calling it a conspiracy. They had better start looking at the big picture.
As things stand, Nepali people are getting angry with political leaders in power chiefly because of two main reasons. One, they have seen how the leaders squabble for power and posts in the government and inside the party. NCP was recently mired in the debate of whether to nominate one of its leaders, Bamdev Gautam, to the National Assembly. Gautam was rejected by the people in first-past-the-post vote in 2017 but certain leaders inside the party look bent on elevating him to the upper house, disregarding the public opinion. Such tendency of favoring certain leaders at the expense of other dedicated and hardworking cadres frustrate people. Second reason for public anger against leadership is their inability to deliver on good governance, development and rule of law. Current government led by NCP came to power on the promise of development and prosperity. But in truth, it has not been able to do much to deliver on the basic needs of people. Life of the people has not fundamentally changed after this government came to power. Rising corruption and visible involvement of political leaders in such corruption cases have frustrated the people. We worry that lack of delivery on part of the leaders on governance and development could escalate the public fury. Only way to deescalate such fury is by becoming accountable to people.