The virtue of politics is reflects the nation’s vision, hope and decision for all sectors of life. It is a domain of freedom, an act of free will for peace, not truth which is the job of scientists. Law-based freedom lends essence to rights for the empowerment of people in speech and action.
In Nepal, rights pervade justice, equality, dignity, prosperity, happiness, identity, peace and human rights vital to subordinate selfish human nature. Nepali politics has inflated the scope of social contract and rules of the game beyond winner-takes-all but remains weak in coordinating leaders in the middle way. Paradoxically, the concept of duty, the basis of Nepali state and society, is becoming alien to leaders and people.
Bound by pre-scientific tradition, the freedom of ancients was embedded in group rights. The state of nature required them to live in a group for security and safety before entering into the pursuit of nirvana, a fully freed life. As people shed fetters of tradition and lineage clutch, their search for modernity entitled them with individual and human rights. The bulge of rights in Nepali Constitution has enfranchised women, Dalits, Madhesi, Janajatis, tribal and minorities with a new identity of equal citizens. Still, rival claims by political parties, leadership, institutions and constitution have troublesome links to informal politics in need of fair adjudication.
Similarly, partisan politics that focused on factional leaders too failed to offer public goods in an impersonal manner, their parties’ electoral promise of the happiness of the mass notwithstanding. The narrative of political decay in Nepal points how different organs of the polity mired down each other and bred discontent. It has triggered social struggles as a change agent of its political culture sustained by the scale and scope of politics by parties’ merger and acquisitions, not competition on public policies.
Nepali leaders, therefore, need to be governed by rajdharma and their success rests on adapting to the changing public opinion, right public policy and welfare project of politics. In Nepal, bloated size and cost of leaders who do not perform their duty either in policy making, political education, expand economic base of the state, formulate proper law for the regulation of various actors, representation of citizens and defence of the autonomy of politics have corroded its efficacy.
The erosion of ideology of Nepali parties has fortified the leadership cult and cut the virtue of solidarity addicting them to culture-bound syndrome of family-friendly politics and patronage. Leader-driven factions have increased the loyalty of cadres to them, not to the parties.
At a time of rapid ecological, technological and economic transformations, Nepali politics as an art needs to be creative to invent context-sensitive knowledge, keep pace with changes and settle the problems of values, actors, institutions and issues so that politics becomes useful. The true measure of good politics lies in the capacity of Nepali leaders to deliver decent standards of living for all people and provide collective presence against all odds.