Politics & The Current Political Situation in Nepal

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Politics:

Politics is the process of making collective decisions for a society or group of people. It involves the use of power, authority, and influence to determine the distribution of resources and to regulate social and economic interactions within a society.

In a democratic system, politics involves the competition among political parties and candidates to gain the support of the people in order to be elected to office and govern on behalf of the citizens. In non-democratic systems, politics may be dominated by a single ruling party or individual.

Politics encompasses a broad range of activities, including the formulation and implementation of policies, the negotiation of treaties and international agreements, the management of national and international crises, and the resolution of conflicts among individuals and groups. It also involves the exercise of authority and the use of force in the form of laws and regulations, as well as the manipulation of public opinion through media and other communication channels.

Political History In Nepal 

Nepal is a federal democratic republic with a multi-party system, where the Prime Minister is the head of government and the President is the head of state. In recent years, Nepal has experienced significant political instability, including a decade-long civil war that ended in 2006 and subsequent political transitions.

By the 1930s, Nepali expatriates in India had started smuggling in writings on political philosophies, which gave birth to a vibrant underground political movement in the capital, birthing Nepal Praja Parishad in 1939, which was dissolved only two years later, following the execution of the four great martyrs. Around the same time, Nepalis involved in the Indian Independence Movement started organising into political parties, leading to the birth of Nepali Congress and Communist Party of Nepal. Following Indian independence, Nepali Congress was successful in overthrowing the Rana regime with support from the Indian government and cooperation from the king.

While communism was still trying to find its footing, Nepali Congress enjoyed overwhelming support of the electorate. Following a brief ten-year exercise in democracy, the autocratic Panchayat system was initiated, this time by the King, who deposed the democratically elected government of Nepali Congress, imprisoned or exiled prominent leaders and issued a ban on party politics.

Many political parties and their leaders remained underground or in exile for the next 30 years of “partyless” politics in Nepal. BP Koirala was released from prison in 1968 and went into exile in Benaras, returning in 1976 only to immediately be put in house arrest.

Although an armed insurgency launched by the major communist faction called the Jhapa movement had failed comprehensively by 1971, it formed the foundation for the dominant communist power, CPN (ML), that was officially launched in 1978.

A general referendum was held in 1980, which saw the CPN ML campaign for the option of multi-party democracy, along with Nepali Congress, but the Panchayat System was declared the winner to significant controversy.

The Panchayat rule saw governments led by a group of monarchy loyalists taking turns, with Surya Bahadur Thapa, Tulsi Giri and Kirti Nidhi Bista becoming prime minister three times each, among others. It introduced a number of reforms, built infrastructures and modernised the country, while significantly curtailing political freedom, imposing the Nepali language and Khas culture to the oppression of all others, and spreading Indophobic propaganda, the effects of which are experienced to the present day.

In 1990, the joint civil resistance launched by the United Left front and Nepali Congress was successful in overthrowing the Panchayat, and the country became a constitutional monarchy.

The United Left Front became CPN UML. The Panchayat loyalists formed National Democratic Party, which emerged as the third major party. While Nepali Congress ran the government for most of the next ten years of democracy that followed, democracy was mostly a disappointment owing to the immature democratic culture and political infighting in the capital, as well as the civil war that followed the guerrilla insurgency launched by the Maoist Party. Following a four-year autocratic rule by King Gyanendra that failed to defeat the Maoists, a mass civil protest was launched by a coalition of the Maoists and the political parties in 2006, which forced the king to stepped down, brought the Maoists to the peace process, and established a democratic republic by 2008.

Following the political consensus to draft the new constitution of the Republic via a constituent assembly, Nepali politics saw a rise of nationalist groups and ideologies. While the political power-wrangling caused continuous instability, maintaining the established average of nine months per government, this period saw two constituent assembly elections and the rise of Madhesi nationalist parties, especially in the Eastern Terai region.

In 2015, a new constitution was adopted that established a federal system of government and guaranteed various rights and freedoms to citizens. However, the implementation of the constitution has been controversial, and there have been ongoing protests and political tensions related to issues such as the delineation of federal boundaries, representation of marginalized groups, and language rights.

 

By 2015, the new constitution had been promulgated and Nepal became “a federal democratic republic striving towards democratic socialism”. In 2017, a series of elections were held according to the new constitution, which established Nepal Communist Party (NCP) (formally united after the election) as the ruling party at the federal level as well as six of the seven provinces, Nepali Congress as the only significant opposition in federal and provincial levels, while the Madhesi coalition formed the provincial government in Province No. 2, but boasts negligible presence in the rest of the country

In addition, there have been frequent changes in government leadership and coalition-building, with several Prime Ministers being appointed and removed from office in recent years. The COVID-19 pandemic has also had a significant impact on Nepal’s political situation, with the government facing criticism for its handling of the crisis.

Political Parties In Nepal

There were around 150 political parties registered with the Election Commission of Nepal. However, only a few of these parties have significant political influence and representation in the government and parliament.

The major political parties in Nepal include the Nepal Communist Party (NCP), the Nepali Congress, and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre), The Rastriya Swatrantra Party(RSP). The NCP was formed in 2018 as a merger between the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre), but it has since split into two factions. The Nepali Congress is the oldest political party in Nepal, and it has a long history of participation in government and parliamentary politics.

There are also several smaller parties and regional parties that have representation in the parliament and local governments. The number of political parties in Nepal has increased significantly in recent years, reflecting the diverse political landscape and the challenges of building stable political coalitions in a multi-party system.

Current situation in nepal :

In 2022, the Parliament (Sansad) has two chambers. The House of Representatives (Pratinidhi Sabha) has 275 members elected for five-year term in single-seat constituencies. The National Council (Rashtriya Sabha) has 59 members, 8 from each state and the remaining 3 from the private concern of the government.

There is the ruling coalition headed by Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba’s Nepali Congress (NC), which consists of Madhav Kumar Nepal’s Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Socialist and Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda’s Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist Centre (CPN-MC) (CPN-US).

The Communist Party of Nepal-United Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML), led by former prime minister K P Sharma Oli, aspires to retake office following the election.

In a dozen seats, the UML has joined forces with the Rashtriya Prajatantra Party (RPP). Under the FPTP system, more than 150 seats are up for election by the monarchist and Hindu nationalist RPP.

Smaller Terai parties have joined forces with the two big coalitions, more so in an effort to gain influence than to pursue the greater autonomy they had previously pushed for. Around 1,200 independents are running for the federal parliament as a show of discontent with the national parties, corruption, and lack of accountability.

After a string of defeats, divisions, and uprisings during Oli’s administration—which was elected with a close to two-thirds majority in 2017—Deuba was appointed prime minister in July 2021. President Bidya Devi Bhandari supported Oli’s attempt to hold onto power by dissolving the House twice, but the Supreme Court ruled that both dissolutions were illegal and ordered the President to swear in Deuba.

Oli has regularly criticised the court as political and stated that, if elected, he would use the Prime Minister’s prerogative to re-apply for a mandate whenever he saw fit.

Although there does not appear to be any internal resistance to Oli’s leadership, Deuba confronts a number of rivals inside the Nepali Congress, notably Gagan Thapa, the general secretary, who has put a claim to the role of prime minister in the event that the coalition wins back power.

Deuba (76) has served as prime minister five times; Oli and Prachanda have each done so once. Rifts within their parties or alliances always resulted in the end of their terms.

After a string of defeats, divisions, and uprisings during Oli’s administration—which was elected with a close to two-thirds majority in 2017—Deuba was appointed prime minister in July 2021. President Bidya Devi Bhandari supported Oli’s attempt to hold onto power by dissolving the House twice, but the Supreme Court ruled that both dissolutions were illegal and ordered the President to swear in Deuba.

Oli has regularly criticised the court as political and stated that, if elected, he would use the Prime Minister’s prerogative to re-apply for a mandate whenever he saw fit.

Although there does not appear to be any internal resistance to Oli’s leadership, Deuba confronts a number of rivals inside the Nepali Congress, notably Gagan Thapa, the general secretary, who has put a claim to the role of prime minister in the event that the coalition wins back power.

Deuba (76) has served as prime minister five times; Oli and Prachanda have each done so once. Rifts within their parties or alliances always resulted in the end of their terms.

Violence during voting

The elections, according to the Chief Election Commissioner of Nepal, Dinesh Kumar Thapaliya, were mainly peaceful with only a few sporadic incidents. These incidences led to the postponement of voting at 15 polling places across four districts.

According to Thapaliya, the vote-counting process started in the Kathmandu Valley on Sunday night and will be finished in a week.

At Nateshwari Basic School of Tribeni Municipality in Bajura, there was one fatality from gunfire at a polling place. Following a fight between two groups, after the vote was completed, the 24-year-old male was fatally shot by police, according to authorities.

In Kailali district’s Dhangadhi Sub-metropolitan City, a small explosion occurred close to a polling location for Sharda Secondary School. Officials said that no one was hurt and that the event only caused a short stoppage of 30 minutes in the voting process at the polling place.

In 11 locations in the Dhangadi, Gorkha, and Dolakha districts, there have been a few instances of festering disputes amongst party cadres. They claimed that it had no impact on the polling.

Core issues and road ahead

Political parties and their leaders are now more defamed than ever because to Nepal’s instability, lack of government accountability, and extreme levels of corruption. Nepal’s economic prospects have been harmed by the decline in governmental authority and growing mistrust of the judiciary – the Chief Justice is still suspended. Approximately 500,000 young people depart the nation each year to work as labourers in the Gulf, and more than a hundred of them pass away each month, according to government statistics. Young people have not been given much optimism by political promises to quadruple or double the GDP.

Parties have found it simple to lay the blame for Nepal’s issues and instability on the monarchy. But once the monarchy was abolished, nothing changed.

Violence during voting

The elections, according to the Chief Election Commissioner of Nepal, Dinesh Kumar Thapaliya, were mainly peaceful with only a few sporadic incidents. These incidences led to the postponement of voting at 15 polling places across four districts.

According to Thapaliya, the vote-counting process started in the Kathmandu Valley on Sunday night and will be finished in a week.

At Nateshwari Basic School of Tribeni Municipality in Bajura, there was one fatality from gunfire at a polling place. Following a fight between two groups, after the vote was completed, the 24-year-old male was fatally shot by police, according to authorities.

In Kailali district’s Dhangadhi Sub-metropolitan City, a small explosion occurred close to a polling location for Sharda Secondary School. Officials said that no one was hurt and that the event only caused a short stoppage of 30 minutes in the voting process at the polling place.

In 11 locations in the Dhangadi, Gorkha, and Dolakha districts, there have been a few instances of festering disputes amongst party cadres. They claimed that it had no impact on the polling.