The entry of the youth and the new political parties into Nepalese politics is a welcome development as people become disenchanted with old leaders
The victory of an independent candidate Balen Shah, a young engineer by profession, for the seat of mayor in the hardcore area of the Newars and other communities in Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu Metropolitan City, in the local level elections in May ignited the youth all over the country. In the last six months, he emerged as the tallest figure in Nepalese politics due to his commitment to revamping the life of Kathmandu. This in many ways impressed voters all over the country to support the youth forces in the elections.
Nepali social media was flooded with slogans like “No, not again” giving the message to the voters not to vote for the ageing leaders or the older parties.
In the meantime, dozens of younger leaders with diverse backgrounds in music, journalism or entrepreneurship who have been elected to parliament have started challenging the hegemony of the old guards in Nepali politics. They feel that the established old parties carry the mindset of the Rana and Shah rule and are functioning like private limited companies. Besides, they are also aware of the rampant corruption, nepotism, and favouritism in appointments in administrative services, promotion, or transfers of staff. So, they talk about contemporary issues and not about ideologies in their attempt to give a new direction to the country. It was the agenda or the zeal of the youth rather than the election manifestos or the ideologies of the parties that attracted the voters. The voters trusted them for their commitment to deliver and bring change. This also laid to the resurgence of right-wing politics in the country. The newly formed Rastriya Swatantra Party wants a unitary system against the federal democratic republic. Similarly, the pro-Hindu and pro-monarchical party, the Rastriya Prajatantra Party, has improved its image substantially after it loss in the 2017 elections
The Janmat Party emerged as a strong regional party in Madhesh by getting the support of the voters mainly from the poor people and the Madheshi diaspora working in Gulf countries.
To get the support of fringe parties like the Nagrik Unmukti Party which has won three seats in the parliament or even the Janmat Party which has six seats, the Deuba-led government has decided to amend the National Criminal Procedure (Code) Act, 2017 through an ordinance to give amnesty to especially Resham Chaudhary who is serving a life term regarding the case of Tikapur carnage in 2015 in which eight people were killed. Once President Bidya Devi Bhandari authenticates this ordinance, it will pave the way for the government to grant amnesty to Chaudhary and also to those political workers convicted of heinous crimes and languishing in jail. The government has defended its stand on the ordinance citing the cases of past governments which also brought similar ordinances to grant amnesty to political prisoners in their bid to bring the radical forces into the mainstream of the nation. But the opponents of the ordinance have asked the president not to give consent to this ordinance. The entry of the youth and the new political parties into politics is a welcome development. People now feel some change as they were disenchanted with the traditional political parties and their old hawk. The era of alternative politics has begun in which the role of the fringe parties is crucial. In such a situation, the government’s effort to give amnesty to certain elements in its bid to bring them into the national mainstream cannot altogether be denied. However, it is difficult to say how the young faces in political parties can deliver in terms of providing stable administration, controlling price rise and reviving the economy, generating employment opportunities and balancing relations between immediate neighbours India and China in the neighbourhood at a time the nation is heading for political instability given the fractured verdict in the elections of federal parliament and provincial assemblies.
Even the Nepali Congress-led coalition is still shy of two votes to get the magical number of 138 in the 275-member House of Representatives (HoR)to form the government.
The views expressed above belong to the author(s). ORF research and analyses now available on Telegram! Click here to access our curated content — blogs, longforms and interviews.
Hari Bansh Jha is a Visiting Fellow at ORF. Formerly a professor of economics at Nepal's Tribhuvan University, Hari Bansh’s areas of interest include, Nepal-China-India strategic ...Read More +