Nepal recently accomplished major constitutional goal by conducting election for federal parliament and provincial assemblies; expected the end of political transition and beginning of stability. Likewise, political revolution completed, and the country takes off for an economic revolution.
Communist have been washed out from the globe except in few countries, but the election results in Nepal revealed that they are still strong enough here. Notably, in the recent election of lower house of parliament, House of Representative ( HoR), left alliance received towards comfortable majority in the parliament.
Beijing will be happy on victory of left alliance in Nepal. As there is little progress to date on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Beijing hopes that the left alliance will speed up related projects after forming the government. Moreover, when Mr. Oli of UML was in power in 2015, he signed several agreements with China, including trade and transit deals that aim to end India’s monopoly over the Nepali market, it is hoped that these halted agreements would also speed up.
India was not much vocal during elections and about political developments in Nepal, but New Delhi would feel uncomfortable with the current political scenario in Nepal. India practiced the worst form of diplomacy by blocking the Nepal border in 2015- short-term and interfering. This election is also a result of that failure. Alienating India is not seen as a winning strategy in the long run, but the left would force India to revisit its strategies, analysts say.
This unexpected election results of federal house of representative has been shocking for the democratic alliance, especially for the Nepali Congress Party, who ruled country by forming government, most of the time after restoration of multi-party system in 1990; since Nepal experienced insufferable political cataclysm, which continued up to constitution promulgation in 2015 and beyond up to all layers of elections completed in 2017.
The first Constituent Assembly election was tasked with writing a new constitution, and acting as the interim legislature for a term of two years. But due to disagreement among political parties, the Constituent Assembly dissolved without promulgating the constitution and new date was announced for second Constituent Assembly election.
Second Constituent Assembly elections were held on 19 November 2013. On 20th September 2015, the constituent assembly promulgated new constitution.
During the recent election of HoR, both political alliances were in tug-of-war and propaganda war to attract voters in their favor. Democratic alliance blamed that the communist alliance “is all about power consolidation and not about communism. Both the UML and the Maoists have huge stakes in private banking, private health, education and building contracting. The goal of a single Communist Party in Nepal is a goal of Communist Republic in place of a Federal Democratic Republic and their aspiration to amend the constitution for people elected executive President is also an indication of communist republic, they said.
The Left alliance also blamed that the democratic alliance are causes of instability in Nepal and for 27 years they did nothing being in government most of the time and one party communist regime is impossible in Nepal as our constitution does not permit it.
Both China and India are watching Nepal election very closely. For Beijing, closer ties and involvement in Nepal helps China to consolidate its control in Tibet. Nepal is home to nearly 30,000 Tibetan residents and refugees. Moreover, China’s Nepal next strategy is to enter in South Asia through Nepal, the most vital objective of which is to keep India’s geo-strategic rise in check. China is supporting efficiently Nepal with direct investments ranging from military aid, roads and highway networks, infrastructure projects, international airports, telecommunications and hydroelectric power.
The execution of India executed large projects in Nepal is comparatively less satisfactory. For example, strengthening of cross-border linkages through integrated check post construction, cross-border railway links, Terai roads projects (Hulaki Rajmarg) and hydro projects are running on snail’s pace in Nepal.
The left alliance may propose to scrap the unequal treaties with India as mentioned in their election manifesto. Moreover, the demands of Madhesh based parties for constitution amendment and multi nation agenda could burst any time in Terai region. Greater understanding should be developed to heal properly ethnic scuffle between Madhesi and Pahade ignited after Madhesh agitation.
Field of economic development would be tough area as the leaders have made big promises during the election. External investors are scared to invest in Nepal due to policy instability and the government of left alliance need strong homework and initiations to attract foreign investment. The cancellation of 1200 mw Budhi Gandaki hydropower awarded to Chinese company by Nepali Congress government gave a negative message to the investors. Nepal lacks a national foreign policy especially in dealing with its neighbors. The government should formulate a consolidated foreign policy categorically based on prioritized issues of national importance. Maintaining equal distance of friendship with India and China should be major priority of the government.
Rule of law, human right, accountability for war crimes and crimes against humanity and devolution of power in the ground level are key areas where political parties have paid less attention for implementation. These areas must be addressed properly.
During the elections, there have been countless explosions targeting candidates in various parts of the country. Who did it with what motives, government should bring all the details to the public, if not properly addressed there would be more turbulent in future. Some external supported agendas could bring more complications such as return of kingship, Hindutva agenda and radical left wing would attempt fail the democracy.
This twenty-seven years instable period dominated by toppling and forming governments as the major parties remain busy grasping power, vital issues were overshadowed. People have a negative attitude towards political leaders, based on their previous records that they are not trustworthy. There is restriction by the constitution to bring no-confidence motion against government for two years but if the division of power and positions between the aligned parties were not properly done there is also possibilities to break the alliance. Moreover, it is also not impossible start for a violent opposition and demonstration to disturb the government as parties are used to.
*Hari Prasad Shrestha, writer of books- “Melting Everest and Falling Mountains” and “The Violent Nile: A Novella on East Africa” is former Undersecretary, Nepal Government and associated with UNDP and UNMISS Africa. He is a freelance writer and regularly contributes articles to leading dailies and journals across the world. Graduated from Tribhuvan University, he went on to Italy to complete his further studies and studied at the institute for Studies on Economic Development, Naples and the Italian Civil Service High institute, Reggio Calabria.