The forthcoming by-election to be held in the first week of Nepali new year has virtually taken the concerned constituency by storm. The election fever has already spread to the whole of the country with the filing of nominations from the political parties. There are quite a few subjects that have generated ripples in general and the resignation of Swarnim Wagle in particular.
Swarnim Wagle, the former Vice Chairman of the National Planning Commission has resigned from Nepali Congress(NC) and joined the Rastriya Swatantra Party( RSP). Similarly, Shiva Chandra Kushbaha who had contested election from the Maoist Central(MC) and subsequently lost has now joined the Jana Mat Party(JMP). So has Upendra Yadav filed nomination from Janata Samajbadi Party(JSP), partner of the Present Coalition who had lost in the last election against the JMP candidate. So the bye election has been marked by defections on one hand followed by what is called back paper examination in the other.
Mr Wagle has outlined the favoritism and nepotism rampant in the NC. He has hinted at the unnecessary domination of Arju Rana, the consort of the former Prime Minister and the seating Member of the Parliament selected from the proportionate representation stream. This has been aggravated by the puppet like dance of Mr. Deuba to the tune of his wife who holds the strings from behind the curtain.
Mr Deuba has a controversial career looking at his performance from the beginning of his political voyage till now. He is alleged to have almost entered into the Panchayat fold following which then the acting President of NC, Mr. Krishna Prasad Bhatrarai is said to have sent him to England for further study in the midst of the Peoples Movement which restored Multi-Party Democracy in Nepal. Mr Deuba was supposedly enjoying the academic ambience of England when his mates were tortured in prison back in the country by the Panchayat Government including the former King Gyanendra who is now shedding crocodiles' tears pointing at the dismal performance of the Republican politicians which is responsible to push the economy of the country at the top of the steep cliff. Mr. Deuba has been blamed for breaking NC and handing over the democracy to the palace. His tenure is also marked by the doling of the Pajeros and Prados as well as the hijacking of the Parliamentarians some of them as far as Thaliand in order to secure majority in the Parliament.
Mr. Wagle has rightly complained of the nepotism and favoritism in political appointments. Given his illuminating oratory and expertise in economy coupled by his high statured appointments in international services, he was an asset to the Party and had to be accorded high priority and importance. The denial of party nomination in the last election was a blunder when it could be given to Mr. Biswa Poudel who was his advisor when he was the Vice Chairman of NC.
But there is also a flip bright side to this gloomy political saga. Deuba was instrumental in protecting the constitution which was otherwise almost done to death by the dictatorial acts of the Former Prime Miniser K P Oli. He strangled it in two occasions through the dissolution of the Parliament despite the verdict of Supreme Court calling the first dissolution itself unconstitutional. The coalition reaped dividend by propelling the second seated NC to the first position in the Local Elections and pushing the United Marxists Leninists(UML) to the second position when it was enjoying the coveted first position. However, the performance of the Coalition was so dismal that it did not even get the majority in the Parliament in the following national election.
Mr. Deuba again replayed his arrogant political act by denying the Prime Ministerial berth to Prachanda who eventually took refuge in the UML fold. This brought a barrage of criticism on Deuba for his clumsy handling of the situation. He again backtracked by extending support to Prachanda which ultimately led to the meteoric fall of UML supported coalition with Prachanda again returning back to the earlier coalition. So Deuba's political trajectory is something like that of a statistician who feels comfortable with one hand in freeze and the other in the furnace. Though devoid of political charisma like mesmerizing oratory as well as the necessary vision to drive the nation despite his tall and handsome persona, he is managing to cling to the center stage of Nepali politics. It is in this juncture that Mr. Wagle resignation has come to the political fore.
Mr. Wagle has rightly complained of the nepotism and favoritism in political appointments. Given his illuminating oratory and expertise in economy coupled by his high statured appointments in international services, he was an asset to the Party and had to be accorded high priority and importance. The denial of party nomination in the last election was a blunder when it could be given to Mr. Biswa Poudel who was his advisor when he was the Vice Chairman of NC. Mr. Wagle had demonstrated patience and now he has eloped to RSP after being denied opportunity due to him.
It is unfortunate that an old Party like NC has not been able to develop rational and scientific criteria for political appointments. It is because of the absence of Departments within the party which Mr. Deuba has not created despite several requests in the past. The conspicuous absence of such Departments have deprived the party with policies that it has to undertake in national affairs.
It is unfortunate that an old Party like NC has not been able to develop rational and scientific criteria for political appointments. It is because of the absence of Departments within the party which Mr. Deuba has not created despite several requests in the past. The conspicuous absence of such Departments have deprived the party with policies that it has to undertake in national affairs. It is no wonder that the newly appointed Minister for Finance, Dr. Prakash Sharan Mahat is finding himself like a proverbial crow lost in dense cloud. Had there been department responsible for debate, discussion and deliberation, it would have framed a list of corrective measures that can be followed in order to ensure that the country does not follow the Sri Lankan route. It would also identify persons likely to head the political appointment. Dr. Mahat was uttering routine lentil rice like panaceas to this economic problem which will not be adequate given the dire straits that the country's economy is passing through.
But Swarnim has to admit that it was following this arbitrary criterion laden with favoritism and nepotism more or less that he had himself made a meteoric rise, his juicy credentials notwithstanding. He was appointed the member of NPC and later its Vice Chairman also because reportedly of his proximity to Mr Deuba during his short stint in the United Kingdom. Quite a few party intellectuals had felt sidelined despite their contribution to democracy by not caring to go even behind the bars during the National Movement in 1990 and later in 2007. This double headed chimera of nepotism and favoritism is also a double edged sword which had acted in his favor earlier and now in his disfavor.
The likes of Swarnim Wagle had to show patience and fight for the corrections of such evils in the party. This was at least the expectation of his well-wishers. His exit has provided opportunities to the thick headed persons within the party who have neither the imagination nor the vision to take the party ahead.
It is said that Mahadev held a competition between Ganesh and Kumar, two of his sons regarding who will complete the round the world race faster. Kumar embarked upon the campaign riding on his fast paced peacock vehicle. Ganesh inconvenienced by his pot belly and rather feeble mouse vehicle was sure to lose the race. But the mouse suggested Ganesh to tell Mahadev that he did not need to go round the earth citing himself as the world for him and circumambulate him several times. Ganesh did this and Mahadev perhaps intoxicated with a heavy dose of cannabis crowned Ganesh with the winning trophy before Kumar arrived after a successful trip. So, Ganeshes will continue to enjoy the positions and the perks in the party if Kumars like Swarnim elope to other party.
Mr Wagle's popularity had shot up in the form of a sympathy wave after he was denied the ticket in the main election. It has now plummeted as never before after his defection in the NC circle. But that should not matter for him as he has already deserted the NC. So, in a nutshell, it was right to point out the irregularities in NC but wrong to make a political escapade to RSP. NC has seen the resignation of stalwarts like Matrika Prasad Koirala, Ganesh Man and Krishna Prasad Bhattarai over the years. Now Swarnim is a matter of past for NC and vice versa until he returns as so many politicians do saying sweet home coming. After all, he will be seen as an outsider in RSP.