Oped

The end of ideology

  • Left forces have to move forward with a vision for development and commitment towards good governance
- Atul K Thakur

Jan 9, 2018-

The recently held elections in Nepal have shown that the ‘left unit’ is more than an idea, it can actually be implemented. Those who have mastery over the commentary side of the ‘political economy’ have to admit now that the ‘India-China Affair’ is no longer the same. Indeed, it is not, and the chapters of foreign and internal affairs have to be amended radically in the times to come. 

The minimal bearing that ideology has on the left-forces is the main reason behind their sudden, landslide victory. These forces don’t have a cohesive view about themselves. In Nepal, we have political actors solely committed to their own survival, instead of a vision or an agenda.

Purely an experiment

Not long ago, the nation suffered a most painful earthquake, this was followed by a round of vicious bi-polar political divisions, international leverage, border blockade, non-action and intangible disasters. Altogether, countless lives have been made vulnerable the country over. The public are thoroughly disenchanted. This has been reflected in the electoral verdict. Findings from the ground have suggested that the electoral results were not affected by calculated moves or patronage from beyond the borders. Instead, they showed that forces with local issues as their prime focus broadly shaped the voting pattern because they fuelled hope for stability. In contrast, the public rejected cases of Madhesi political activism and the confused new style of the Nepali Congress (NC). Sans left-forces, other political stakeholders had dismal chances in the polls.

Globally, ideological purity is on the wane and fast going out of fashion. And the new political experiment in Nepal is no exception. Though at this juncture, ‘factionist tendencies’ and the rise of ‘fringe forces’ in Nepal are still being resisted. However, the NC is still dangling the post of Prime Minister in front of Pushpa Kamal Dahal, but unlike in the past, this will not work given the current state of affairs. It’s too late for both the NC and the CPN (Maoist Centre) to come to a political agreement. Now, all the NC can do is to re-invent itself thoroughly.

The emerging scenario offers the perturbing possibility of an ideological cocktail formed by a mixture of Marxism-Leninism and Maoism for casual reasons such as nationalism or unregulated capitalism. Baburam Bhattarai, in search of an alternative, also made a grave mistake by aligning with the general trend and making Naya Shakti Nepal subservient to the political forces in power.

Communism is based on the tenets of unity and struggle, yet at present, left forces have departed completely from this way of thought. What’s more, the left alliance seems to have no plans to transform any policies that are keeping Nepal bound as a client state.

Progress with a vision

The left forces should now move forward with a vision to nationalise the economy and rethink the implementation of the current fledgling model of federalism that appears to have little to offer in terms of governance and development. Instead, a ministry-level overhaul should be carried out to address long pending issues such as ensuring a prudent spread of industries across the country that is aligned with new development clusters. This would ensure a decentralisation of production, establish market linkages, and create livelihood. Operational waste must also be cut. A sustainable growth of the national economy can be achieved through the implementation of such measures.

Measures for economic cooperation with both India and China must be promoted. The foundation for such cooperation can be laid out while keeping strategic concerns alive. However, in order to do so, a great deal of clarity is required at the policy level and could be  a big challenge for the future establishment at the Singha Durbar in Kathmandu.

The ruling left alliance must also address the factors that make the ethnicity-vested political interface a cause of vicious diversionist tendencies in certain instances. To keep the house in order and giving all the provinces their due, including the Madhes, the action plan should be made in accordance with the issues on the ground instead of being made on the basis of the directionless, regional aspirations of a few. 

The left front is not expected to break all boundaries and go above and beyond in terms of good governance, but it is expected to make some progress with the new federal structure. With a rational set of policies and actions, the left forces could be instrumental in implementing historical changes. Without rational policies or actions, the experiment with federalism in this troubled democratic nation won’t amount to much.

With this big political shift, those who will now be accountable for running the government should give more importance to their present and future performance rather than to their electoral figures. Giving importance to non-issues will only increase the risk of political falling-out. In the course of this experiment with federalism, democracy will be met with a host of other opportunities and risks.

Thakur is a public policy professional based in New Delhi, he can be reached on: atulmthakur@gmail.com

Published: 09-01-2018 08:22

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