Nepal is going to hold by-election on April 23 for the vacant seats in the federal parliament. These seats had become vacant when Ram Chandra Paudel, the elected candidate from Tanahun-1, and Ram Sahaya Prasad Yadav from Bara-2 had resigned from their posts after being elected the President and Vice-President of the country respectively. The Supreme Court had dismissed Rabi Lamichhane’s post over his citizenship dispute. He was elected candidate from Chitwan-2.
In the context of a few days remaining for voting, the candidates and party cadres are organizing different programs to convince people to vote for them. The senior leaders are addressing mass gatherings and explaining their previous contributions to public. They are claiming their worth in the national and international politics.
An interesting aspect of this upcoming election is that parties of different ideologies are making alliances with each-other. The right and left wing parties are proceeding ahead with common candidates for the electoral seats. Nepali Congress, CPN (Maoist Center), CPN (Unified Socialist), Loktantrik Samajbadi Party, and a few fringe parties have made an alliance whereas the CPN (UML), Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) and Rastriya Swatantra Party (RSP) are contesting this election without alliance this time. For the voters and political analysts, these alliances, whoever is involved in them, ignore democratic values. They seem to have forged the alliance just for coming to power by whatever means. The election slogans are unbelievable and ludicrous as people do not believe that a coalition between opposite poles can work, in a long run, for political stability. People have a lot of questions to the leaders regarding their previous deeds.
As the leaders have no satisfactory answers for the questions, they put charges to one another in the personal level. This has led them to trade verbal wars against each other in the public forums. Each group of alliances is making use of abusive language against their opponents. They are severely criticizing each other on public gatherings, press meets or elsewhere. Its impact can be seen in the junior activist level as well. The social sites like Facebook, Tiktok, and Twitter are filled with insulting comments. They are uncensored and hellish. A civilized citizen cannot read them.
In a democratic system, election is a moment when parties can take their ideologies to public, describe them, and establish them among voters. It is a time to train youths and party cadres, inculcate decent political culture. Election gives the political parties an opportunity to sharpen the cadres’ skills and develop leadership. It teaches democratic values to the immature groups that are involved in violent activities. It helps everyone to be assimilated into mainstream politics. Election should teach everyone political values, co-existence, competition, self-help and tolerance. It is not just a political battle for gaining power. Sometimes, even if the parties are likely to be defeated, they should be ready to take part in the election for the establishment of good political culture. This is what the major political parties did to bring the then armed CPN (Maoist) to a peaceful political process. Election should establish ideologies, healthy competition, and co-operation.
If the politicians go on using derogatory metaphors worse than vulgar, this is likely to push the society to disharmony, war and violence. A civilized society must have its standard about how far one can go speaking against others. Everyone should be mindful that their ethical behaviors can secure their own inner perfection and harmony of the entire society.
Instead of advocating for a civilized and humble society, party leaders are on the front line to making aggressive expressions. They spend most of their time criticizing others to prove their worth. No civilized citizen can appreciate the petty use of language in public places. This kind of scornful remark to each other, whoever is making it, is, for sure, guiding our society to degeneration. It is not surely developing sound thinking in the youths. From their language use, we can guess the kind of hatred they have against one another. If the politicians go on using derogatory metaphors worse than vulgar, this is likely to push the society to disharmony, war and violence. A civilized society must have its standard about how far one can go speaking against others. Everyone should be mindful that their ethical behaviors can secure their own inner perfection and harmony of the entire society. Everyone needs to follow ethical aspect as a precondition to become a candidate in the election.
During the election, parties need to go to ask votes describing their development agendas. They need to postulate their plans for solving people’s everyday problems. They should make people clearly understand their standpoint on strengthening ties with foreign countries, maintaining national as well as border security, short and long-term development plans, keeping up peace, and harmony among all groups, and developing patriotism in all citizens. To do this, they need not blame or criticize others. They should appeal to people to vote for them for their dedication to serve the country. They should never try to influence people by distributing a trifling amount of money to buy their votes. Political theories denounce such practices. The people’s representatives elected this way will ultimately seek opportunities to raise the money spent during the election. This will lead to corruption and unfair deals.
As the existing parties are spreading disappointments among the general public every time, people have begun to think of some alternative political institutions. Such symptoms are clearly visible as the independent youths are becoming candidates for the upcoming election. The local poll that took place last year has already depicted that some independent representatives have won people’s hearts by showing their vision and dedication to good governance. A group of disgruntled youths, after the election dates were announced, are running a campaign “No Not Again” to stop the existing top leaders from being elected. They want them to take rest now. They now want all systems to work independently without being affected by political power sharing culture.
Nepal is the land where the leaders like Bhakti Thapa, Amar Sigh Thapa, B.P. Koirala, Ganesh Man Singh, Puspa Lal, Krishna Prasad Bhattarai, Man Mohan Adhikari, and many others had brought a new level of ethical standard in the political arena. They depicted the highest level of political sincerity, patriotism, and zeal to serve for the nation and people. Presently, political leaders seem to be working for their personal benefit disregarding the people’s welfare. Politics has become an earning tool rather than serving people. Political ideologies have been ignored.
All parties seem to be the same in terms of their ideological standpoint. This confusion must not exist. Parties must have their ideological clarity and distinction. Leaders must show sincerity, dedication and decent manners to restore ethics. As Paul Wellstone remarks politics is what we hope for. It should not spread disappointment in the public. The upcoming by-election should restore political ethics to not let people’s optimism die.
(Madhav Prasad Dahal is an Assistant Professor of English at the Institute of Engineering, Pulchowk Campus)