--BY MADAN LAMSAL
There are some telltale signs that democracy in Nepal is getting stronger. Just a few weeks ago, for example, two political outfits showed their democratic behaviour near Saptari's Rajbiraj, and the police, too, exhibited an exercise in democracy. Now, it seems, the local level elections will take place, albeit after a hiatus of 16 years. In a democracy, as we all know, political parties and their leaders play the major role. That should be why political parties in Nepal are being formed, deformed and re-formed. This surely is a good omen for democracy. Whether it's the communist parties, the Madhes-based parties or the RPP – all have split and then reunited, doing their bit to strengthen the country's democracy.
Take a look at the Maoists. They are divided and not divided; the many Maoist parties in Nepal represent a unique case of unity in diversity! They are in the government but they are also in the opposition on the streets. Organised under various names, shapes and sizes, the brand of Maoism is still quite a hit in Nepal. The Maoists – whether those in the government, parliament or streets – are the same in terms of their deeds, nature and thinking. And they offer you a choice. If you feel like giving a donation through the government, you can do that through the Prime Minister. If you feel like doing that to a new force, the Naya Shakti is there. If you will donate only after seeing a gun, then there are Chand-led Maoists to do that for you. If you trust only senior citizens when it comes to donations, then there is Baidya and company. No matter when, where and who you choose to donate to, the donations will reach the hands of the Maoists, especially comrade Prachanda. Because he is the sole and one and only creator of this Maoist unity in diversity!
The politicians in Nepal are very respectable, especially the top politicians. They have been doing things that are sure to strengthen democracy. For example they fight elections from two constituencies and they are allowed to vote even when they are in jail. A politician's standing in Nepali society is determined by the amount of time spent in jail and the coveted state posts gotten when out of jail. It's a different thing altogether that the general public doesn't enjoy the privilege of voting from inside jail or getting a decent job after coming out of jail. Only the politicians enjoy such privileges in Nepal. Because, in a democracy, we must make the politicians stronger. Otherwise, others might wrestle the power away.
You may not get a job even if you have a BA or an MA degree. But politicians can become the industry minister or the finance minister in Nepal even if they barely know their ABCs. This provision especially makes the politicians stronger, thereby strengthening our democracy. Such privileges are provided not only to politicians but also to their near and dear ones who can become governors or chairmen or chief executives of the Insurance Board or SEBON or the Nepali ambassador to a foreign country.
To become an ordinary constable or soldier, you need to show that you can run for 10 kms. But you don't even need to be physically fit to become the home, health or the defense minister. What's more, no one in your entire family might have ever gone to school but you can become the education minister if you are a politician! Similarly, there may be hundreds of cases filed against you in courts, but you can become the law and justice minister if you happen to be a politician. A civil servant is not entitled to perks like a pension if he retires in 19 instead of 20 years. But a politician is entitled to a number of perks and benefits for life after becoming a minister or prime minister even for a brief period.
Democracy is certainly getting stronger in Nepal!