It is not difficult to join in with you in your impatience with the
breed of corrupt politicians who now rule our country.
But, for a difference lately, the statue of historically the
corrupt-est politician in Nepal has finally been brought down at
Birgunj, Saddam Hussain style. It was such an obscene insult on the
people of Nepal that of all the people who sacrificed their lives in
the service to the nation, this thug of a man should be immortalized
by erecting a statue at Nepal's door to the outside world, Birgung.
But we also know that the statue itself was an act of servitude
performed by fellow NC thugs who were also allowed to make enormous
sums of money themselves due to the chief thug's policy that in order
to subdue any possible opposition to you, you have to get everybody
around you corrupted too. This has been the sum and substance of the
Nepali Congress as a "political" party as it has also been of other
parties as well that otherwise masquerade as ideologically inspired
That said, the fact remains that when Girija Koirala was in his later
teens and trying to follow the footsteps of his elder brother, BP
Koirala, one of the very few statesmen to be borne to Nepal, he
certainly did not envision that when he would grow up and go on to
become the prime minister of the country, he would turn the government
of Nepal into the machine for utmost corruption that the country has
ever known. Most possibly, he too was as inspired himself by genuine
democratic ideals and by his urge to do the utmost good to suffering
humanity of his motherland.
The reason most of these well-meaning, ideologically inspired and
devoted politicians resort to corruption is because the voters are not
and cannot be made ideologically as inspired too due to their poverty
and lack of education. T he situation is made worse for the people by
the fact that the supporters of these national leaders at the local
level are no other than the feudal crooks who have always dispossessed
them of whatever they have in this chronically feudalistic society.
So, right from the start after the 1990 restoration of multiparty
system, the so-called democratic election had degenerated into buying
and selling votes. Since this became the basic rule of the game, just
about everybody in the structure of a political party had to become
corrupt. The richer you are the greater your capability of buying
supporters and voters in the communities. For your information,
during the last couple of years, I had the opportunity of addressing
gatherings of senior politicians which included ex-prime ministers and
ex-ministers. When I told them, based on my feudalism-based framework
of analysis, that a successful politician in Nepal was necessarily a
corrupt man, nobody was angry; I was greeted by resounding laughter.
Since everybody in their ranks is corrupt, there is no shame
associated with being corrupt or branded as such publicly.
Conceptually speaking, it is the manifestation of the
incompatibilities between the demands of the Westminster-style
democracy for rational voters and the chronically feudalistic nature
of the Nepali society that cannot provide them.
It is this context against which I have been arguing for the
redefinition of Nepal's polity, because at the grassroots we are able
to promote robust democracies as evidenced by the brilliant successes
of forest user groups and mothers' groups. Briefly put, when the users
themselves get to participate in decision making, there is
transparency of management and accountability of leaders, the twin
critical conditions of the genuinely democratic setup. The point of
departure for such far-reaching redefinition of polity would, however,
has to be demanding by its very nature. Briefly put, we will have to
do away with the parasitic constituent assembly and the current
constitution making process, and that can be done only with the
President taking over the reins of administration for managing this
transition. But that does not seem to be on the cards.
As our country is sandwiched between the two vast world powers, one
would expect that they help the small buffer with political
development too. However, that has not been the case either. India's
foreign policy, according to an Indian analyst himself (S Shah, 2004)
has always been designed to keep Nepal "intrinsically unstable". While
with the advent of Modi at the helm in India, that policy initially
seemed to be changing. But recent events have shown that that may not
be the story yet after all. Besides, with the Lipu Lekh controversy
raging in Nepal, India is even seen as an "occupying power" that is
unlawfully in control of a part of Nepal's sovereign territory. While
China is hailed as a better neighbor, her help in political
development has been limited too, even as her own country's speedy
transition to being a world power was helped mainly by visionary
leadership and control of corruption.
So, dear Kalyanjee, this is where our nation is stuck. So, cursing the
politicians is one of our bounden duties. But we have to look beyond
and try to find out how to bring about the redefinition of our polity
without which there is very little hope for getting rid of the vicious
cycle in which our hapless people are stuck.
Bihari Krishna Shrestha