Stability is a wish of the Nepali society however instability is a fate of it. After the promulgation of the constitution, political stability is a catchy, punchy slogan of the political parties. It is because the underdevelopment of Nepali society is due to political instability. Now, Nepal successfully conducted elections to elect its 11th government since the country became a democratic republic in 2008. Soon, people will be choosing 275 members of the House of Representatives, as well as filling seven provincial assemblies. Elections are the cornerstone of democratic governance and political stability.
Marxism understands elections not as a synonym for democracy but as an act of renewing the license to exploit the oppressed. According to Nelson Mandala, elections are also means of conflict resolution for post-conflict countries, transferring the responsibility of addressing the causes of conflict and applying ointment to past wounds. Whereas American President Abraham Lincoln said that it is an expression of the people’s will, good or bad, the people will decide. He said that the election is the people’s decision. They should be saved with a burnt back wound, not others. Expressing anger towards Western democracy, Mahatma Gandhi said that western democracy called in the name of election is nothing but diluted fascism. In the true sense, democracy is the rule of the basic people. The rule of the elected people in the name of election and sitting at the center is not worth it.
The political history of Nepal is very uneven. After democracy was achieved in 1951, within the short span of 10 years, more than 10 governments were formed until the military scandal in 1961. Even during the 30 years of Panchayat rule, which was implemented after the ban on parties, it seems that 16 governments were formed from the government led by the then King Mahendra  to the government of Lokendra Bahadur Chand . Even in the restored democracy after the people’s movement of 1990, including the direct rule of King Gyanendra, to the reign of G.P Koirala, it seems that 16 governments within 16 years were formed.
The country has experienced 12 governments in the 14 years from 2008 to the present when the country became a republic. Counting from 1951 to date, the country has experienced 54 governments in the past 75 years. The truth that this picture reveals is that Nepal is in the grip of unstable politics. This period includes events from 2/3 majority to minority and elected to unelected, nominated to direct rule of the king. But since the neighboring country India became independent from British Rule in 1947, a total of 18 governments have been formed in the history of 75 years. The picture of political instability has indeed affected the development of Nepal, but what is the reason why Nepal had to have 54 governments in 75 years and India had only 18 governments in the history of 75 years is a subject that needs further discussion.
Rana rule was a problem for Nepal. Even after the end of the Rana era, political stability could not be achieved. In 1951, the democracy that was said to have been achieved has become more unstable. During this period, instead of the election of the Constituent Assembly, parliamentary elections were held, even if two-thirds of the government was formed through the parliamentary elections, but that government could not last. The government was overthrown through the king’s military coup. A year and a half ago, when the government that was approved by more than two-thirds of the people was ousted, neither the ruling party, the opposition nor the people showed commensurate attention to counter it. Even the party-less panchayat, which was triggered as the reason for the failure of the party system, could not provide stability. The tireless efforts and sacrifices of the parties razed the panchayat but could not bring stability.
In 2015, it was also possible to issue the constitution from the Constituent Assembly, and it was also possible to get almost two-thirds of the votes in the election by combining the communist parties, but again political stability could not be achieved. In this context, the second term election after the promulgation of the constitution has been completed. The results of the elections have shown signs of creating more unstable and weak governments. Why does this always happen? This is a serious question. The political leadership needs to answer this.
The majority of Nepali people are leftists. But left parties never live and work together. So, the country has suffered from hung parliament for long period. Moreover, the Nepali political movement has spiked on the foundation of destruction and for the dismantling of the establishment. ‘Construction’ is no more on the political agendas of parties. Nepali politics has indulged in a vicious circle of destruction and movement. Now the right time has come to abandon the character of destruction and embrace the character of the construction. There was no attempt to build that character. This is the main problem of Nepali politics.
Looking at the list of governments formed in the past 75 years of Nepali politics, most of them do not seem to have changed due to their agenda. Instead, those governments have changed in the power struggle. This failed experience of the past is a serious mistake that should not be repeated by the current and future governments and political parties. But the same game of the traditional parties is sure to continue. Even the parties that have emerged as new forces are bewildered about who to support and who not to. The popular saying about power is “the purpose of politics is power”. Everything other than power is an illusion in a distorted sense and using the same pattern, the mistake of taking the positions in the cabinet as the meaning of gaining power was made by the existing political parties in the past. The main weakness of Nepali politics is the inability to embark on a great campaign to change the nature of state power by freeing Nepali politics from the illusion of gaining power by holding government and ministerial posts.
The biggest irony of Nepali politics is the lack of political agenda. Political parties are formed based on political agendas. Political parties publish different programs to implement their political agenda. Based on those programs, the people form the government by giving a mandate. Since the formation of the government, the political parties are struggling hard to implement the agenda that they have announced. The parties that could not get the mandate are starting to work harder in the hope of getting the mandate again and again. This is the pure and simple mathematics of politics. But this basic belief of politics in Nepal is rarely applied. The irony is that alliances of those who do not concur with the agenda will be bolstered but those who agree with the agenda will be destroyed. It has been repeated time and again in Nepal. Positions and chairs are not the only enemies that bring each other’s staunch opponents together and keep them strong. Shameless bargaining and manipulation of power have become the only reason why the agenda of Nepali politics is overshadowed. Once again, there is a danger and chance that politics without an agenda will rule Nepali politics.
The consequence of political instability is creating favorable conditions for power centers. It has become a kind of permanent comment that the blessing of power centers is necessary to rise and survive in Nepali politics. Even the Rana rulers don’t hesitate to say that if the Rana wanted to maintain their rule, they should have accepted the conditions of the immediate occupation. Panchayat and followers of autocratic monarchs also prefer to repeat this exact language. In the same way, it is an open secret truth that dominates Nepali politics that the rise of new powers and the merging with old powers and then reconciling them is also done by those power centers. Political pundits claim that the secret behind new political parties and their leaders will also be revealed after some time. As the established political parties grow stronger, the wishes of the power centers are not fulfilled, so the power centers are dominating all over Nepal and beyond to create new parties to fulfill their wishes and to counter the old and established parties.
The political parties fought against the Rana, Panchayat, and Gyanendra, who built a glorious work of sacrifice, who have the challenge of preserving their legacy, while the new emerging parties have the added challenge of fulfilling their public promises. There is no dispute that politics is the means of social change. It is politics that established the federal democratic republic. Its institutional development is the greatest challenge. But the interpretation of Nepali politics that has developed today is that Nepali politics is only about contesting the elections to start a party and after that, they hardly fulfill the promises made to the public after going into the government.
The existing party’s challenge is to reform itself and become a true servant of the people, keeping itself always ready to meet the expectations of the changing society. Parties should be responsible to pitch in the transformation of society to fulfill the people’s expectations.
Devkota is a Senior Advocate and Member of the Constituent Assembly of Nepal.