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Kathmandu: Frustration is what defines the public mood about politics in Nepal at the moment.  Youths see no hope in the country, political leaders are perceived as a bunch of power-hungry guys with no care for the wellbeing of people and the country. This frustration is increasing day by day as government instability has become a norm. Shankar Tiwari, a political analyst and a youth leader associated with Nepali Congress, calls this situation “unfortunate” in Nepali politics.  After the 2007 political change and constitution promulgation after eight years of transition politics, people had expected that the things would return to perfect order and politics would take a definite course, says Tiwari.  According to him, after two general elections post 2015 and formation of assemblies and governments at local, provincial and federal levels, this should have been the time for us to be optimistic about the future. “But now we are facing pretty tough times politically,” he said. “Stability looks like an impossible prospect and politics is in disarray.”

So, what went wrong? After the 2017 elections his prognosis was that we were now headed toward coalition culture. The UML and Maoist parties formed an alliance and went to election together and they secured almost two thirds majority.  “This was the biggest political experiment which later failed miserably,” he told The DMN News. According to him, UML leader KP Oli played a spoilsport with the aspirations of Nepali people for a stable government system. “The kind of instability we see today is the result of Oli—the prime minister with almost two thirds majority in parliament—dissolving the parliament not only once but twice in a row. Which is why I have been saying that Oli attempted to murder the constitution, which thanks to the Supreme Court, it saved,” he said.

According to Tiwari, it was because of this move of Oli that democratic forces, or rather those who wanted to safeguard this constitution, made an alliance in 2022 and went to the polls.  “Oli again tried to sabotage the constitution and created a rift in the ruling alliance.  First Oli said UML and Congress should together lead the government but he made a volt face soon afterward.  He then offered the PM to Prachanda to break the alliance with Congress.”

Tiwari disapproved the way Oli is still defending his move of dissolving parliament in 2021. “His first speech in the second federal parliament was about the defense of parliament dissolution.  Rumors are that foul play is underway to dissolve parliament again.”

Even after the change in the coalition, Oli is displaying a bad political culture, says Tiwari. “He is criticizing the government he himself helped to make. He is criticizing the budget presented by the government as if the budget was brought by the party led by the opposition. Where do you see such contradictions? At least Congress has never opposed the budget brought by the party in the government to which it has lent support.”

Tiwari’s hunch is that because of such contradictions and lack of clear direction for the future, the Prachanda-led government might collapse on its own. “Mark my words,” he said, “this government will fall because of its own contradictions and inconsistent behaviors. Congress will just wait and watch,” Tiwari said.

According to Tiwari, Oli wasted the opportunity to set the country to the new direction of stability and development with his unconstitutional political move and by setting a wrong precedent for development at local level with excessive emphasis on building structures such as view towers. “The first term of most local governments was marked by this competition to build view towers from the budget which otherwise could have been spent on education and health.  Thanks to the wisdom of the local levels now, this trend has now been discouraged across the country,” he said. 

Populist politics is the offshoot of the inability of the established parties to promote youth leadership and give chance to the youth.

The rhetoric of Mission 84 (mission for general election to be held in 2027) that every politician of major parties is talking about has no meaning in his sense. “It’s suicidal to leave the mandate of second republican federal parliament in doldrums and talk about 2027,” he said. “Everywhere the first party in parliament forms the government. Why was Congress denied this basic mandate?” Tiwari questioned.

When the second parliament after the 1990’s political change could not function well, that paved the way for the fall of the 1990s’ political system. “I see a similar thing happening now. Leaders keep changing their goalposts, morality and ethics have been totally forgotten,” he said.

Populist politics is the offshoot of the inability of the established parties to promote youth leadership and give chance to the youth, says Tiwari. “Old parties have not given a chance to new faces to lead  the respective parties so the new populists are making their headway in national politics,” he said. “In a post-truth era dominated by social media, unethical leaders can make their point more loudly, visibly and vocally.”

So what should be done? According to him, only accountability and better governance coupled with fast service delivery can help correct this political anomaly. “Leaders in the liberal democratic space need to be more compassionate to sections of the people who have been left behind in the pace of development, while nearly half of the total population has reached lower or  middle class status,” said Tiwari. “The government needs to be accountable to people, and political parties need to put people’s interests above petty political interests.”