Nepalese political leaders have always demonstrated their affection for visiting developed countries in the west. The major political parties have established a wider Network of their party wings in these countries, mainly for party politics. The political parties of Nepal: Nepali Congress (NC), Communist Party of Nepal (UML), Communist party of Nepal (Maoist Centre) and other parties have established their sister organizations in the Nepalese diasporic communities.
However, these sister organizations have failed to provide any major policy inputs to their mother parties till date. The political wrangling among these organizations have vividly reflected the existing political grudge and rifts of Nepal. If evaluated in terms of nature, function and efficiency, these organizations are just a foreign edition of identical sister organizations of the political parties in Nepal.
The Nepalese diaspora retains a somewhat ambivalent attitude towards the motherland. They fiercely love their motherland and want strong emotional ties with prosperous Nepal. But they are exasperated by the inability of politicians, whereas they themselves are involved in petty politics of motherland. In social media, Nepalese diaspora is expressing their frustrations, disappointments and dissatisfactions at the current political situation in Nepal. They highlight a long worrisome list of undistinguished issues like red tape, rampant corruption, fraud and ‘bullock-cart pace’ of development.
I do not mean that all are letting their gall flow uncontrolled. But, the comments have partly been out of context, defamatory, disrespectful and not focused on the real issues. Though the Nepalese Diaspora is concerned at the present situation of their motherland, the cheap and inhumane comments in social media contradict with their own concerns. We have not been able to set an example of seriousness while expressing our views in social media. Our ideology and practice should go hand in hand. Every word we write matters. The Diaspora should rather concentrate on real issues and provide issue based feedbacks to the political parties and their leaders professionally.
It is obvious that Nepal is going through a painful and protracted political transition. The political establishment and the leaders of the country have failed to overcome the challenges of the phase of political transition. It seems, the expectations of Nepalese people and the course of political parties do not converge. Suspicion, distrust, lack of political will and vision are defining the politics of Nepal. The popularity of the political parties and their leaders is nosediving after the popular movement.
The Nepalese diaspora is regularly receiving high profile political leaders and ministers from Nepal. Ex-Prime Minister of Nepal, Dr Baburam Bhattarai visited Europe recently. His visit created some vibrations among the Nepalese Diasporas of Europe. He was very busy in trying to expand his newly floated party “Naya Shakti” (English: New Force) here, which he claims to be an alternative political force for the development of Nepal. Before launching the new party, Dr Bhattarai used to be one of the most senior leaders of the Nepal Communist Party (Maoist).
He led the Maoist insurgency along with his Comrade Mr Puspa Kamal Dahal (Prachanda), who is the President of the Maoist party and the current Prime Minister of Nepal. Interestingly Dr Bhattarai is presenting himself and his party at international platforms, but in contrary Mr Prachanda is avoiding such foreign visits. Recently, Mr Prachanda canceled his planned Australia visit after an objection letter was sent to the Australian authority citing his involvement in violations of human rights during the period of Maoist insurgency in Nepal. There was speculation; he feared some form of action against him, if he had undertaken the visit.
During his UK visit, Dr Bhattarai attended a Podium Discussion at the London School of Economics (LSE) and participated in an interaction program at the Oxford University, among others. It’s rare for any former Prime Minister of Nepal indulging in such activities in academic institutions with that fame. His academic background, of course, helped him to stand up at those forums. But those programs can’t be the parameters of success of his visit or his party, just because they were hosted at Oxford and at LSE. What counts are his strategy and vision for the development of Nepal. His rhetoric in these programs was not different than his recent political analysis “Naya Shakti”. His speeches were merely the English translations of his previous speeches, which he delivered in Nepal. Nothing was new in his views expressed during his current Europe visit. Will they be good enough to attract the members of Nepalese Diaspora to his party?
One more interesting point to mention is the legality of the NRN Citizens exercising the political rights in Nepal. The Government of Nepal, political establishment and political parties are not convinced of providing the much demanded continuation of Nepalese Citizenship to the Non-Resident Nepalese yet. A provision of Non-Resident Nepali (NRN) Citizenship is included in the Constitution of Nepal 2072, which grants the economic, social and cultural rights, but forbids the political rights to the NRN Citizens. That means they cannot acquire the membership of Nepali political parties, legally. But, all the political parties’ sister organisations from abroad represent in their respective national conventions; the highest level of policy making bodies. There is an obvious contradiction that Non-Resident Nepali find somewhat amusing and largely infuriating. The cooperation and promises is what amuse us, the infuriating part is their hypocrisy. If they want NRNs to be a partner for the development of Nepal, they should be involved in the political process of the country. Just meeting them abroad will yield nothing.
The Nepali Congress (NC), Nepal Communist Party (UML) and Nepal Communist Party (Maoist Centre) may still have strong hold on their traditional voters. During recent decades, the voting pattern of Nepalese population has not been bold or surprising enough to bring one or another new party to the power. During Maoist insurgency, Dr Bhattarai’s academic background was appealing to many youngsters. He became the prime minister, but he could not deliver as of the expectations of the people. Which might be multifactorial, but since then he is considered nothing more than a leader of the old regime. In addition, his wife was widely accused of corruption during his tenure. He has not made any convincing statement in this regard yet. Similarly, he has not condemned the violations of human rights, which took place during the Maoist insurgency. He has taken a strategy of silence on it. In this context, his claims of Naya Shakti being a new political force may not be good enough to make some ground. Unlike NC, UML and Maoists, Dr Bhattarai does not have any political base in European diaspora yet. It seems he even does not have any agenda to attract them. Hence, will Dr Bhattarai, a former Prime Minister, whose tenure was not much distinct than that of others, be able to come up to the expectations of the population, at home and abroad? Only with the assembly of the politicians of the old system, it may be a mission impossible.
(Dr Shrestha is practicing Radiation Oncologist in Switzerland.)