Deepak Raj Joshi
When opportunity is given to children or members of a powerful political family, it is generally referred to as political dynasty. Many of such family are involved in politics and hold important public offices. Political dynasties hold hereditary powers that are carried out through family groups. Power is passed down to the heirs of family so as to maintain status quo. Families whose members are involved in election-based politics, political family members are bound through inheritance or marriage.
Dynastic politics is not limited to Nepal but is spread all over the world. The extent to which the dynasty has penetrated into Nepal’s politics is now visible in almost all parties. In modern times, politics has taken the form of business. Even though the children of political families are not familiar with the alphabet of politics, they consider party tickets and positions as their right. Dynasty is not bad if the qualified family members come to politics but it is surprising when the public wants to see the same unworthy descendants wearing the crown, despite having doubts about the qualifications of the successor. Every time innocent people fall prey to false slogans of political parties run by political family and then they are forced to live at the mercy of dynastic leaders.
The impact of the dynasty is less in communist and other parties compared to the Nepali Congress (NC). But whoever has it, political parties are run as family property. As a result, it is difficult for qualified and talented people to enter politics. Due to this, the value- and issue-based politics takes a back seat, with personality cult filling the void. Divergent factors such as caste, religion, and language makes a foray into politics. In addition, it also deepens the problem of political corruption which weakens democracy.
Dynastic politics has dominated our nation from the beginning. There is virtually no inner party democracy within the NC. Only the Koirala family used to run it and take every decision. It is Nepal’s Gandhi’s family in politics. It is no wonder that Girija Koirala and the Nepali Congress Working Committee were unwilling to groom a leader outside the Koirala family. Dynastic politics poses a threat to democracy as it gives rise to oligarchy, nepotism and mediocrity. The leadership of dynasty politics has no penchant for meritocracy. Thus, it gives birth to corruption and bad governance, leading to the country on the path of instability.
Political parties have a role in building political dynasties. Today’s political parties have a tendency to include party cadres possessing resources and money. But those with ability and integrity are ignored. On average, political dynasties rely on big money. We have to draft a bill to discourage political nepotism and flawed practice that help elect members of the same family to parliament. If such a bill gets endorsed by the parliament, many lawmakers are likely to face the question of qualification.
Political dynasties are a clear manifestation of the absence of democracy in the country that controls the economy and politics. This makes the concept of the political party in the country because families themselves serve as solid machinery to win the election again. It also shrinks space in participation to the substance as the position is just revolving around them instead of others having the opportunity to serve the nation. Nepal is a democratic country but unfortunately it has been tainted by pervasive nepotism. The people should be able to participate in the government, but dynastic politics becomes a serious disease that makes the competent candidates lose the elections. Political dynasty always seeks to grasp power at all cost, even by dumping ethical norms and values.
The biggest weakness of family politics is that it prevents the emergence of second-generation leadership. As the leader, the next generation of political leaders serve the leadership and create family heirs. Thus, heirs or leaderships are appointed at all levels of the party. In the absence of volunteers or people-centric leaders, the family-run political parties have faced wrath from the people. NC and democracy will only survive if the party breaks the clutches of family politics.
Most people are asked what the real problem of Nepal is. They get different answers. Some people call corruption as root cause of underdevelopment. While some people say unemployment, poverty, feudalism, and capitalism are the biggest problems. But in my view, the true problem of our country is unqualified political leaders who get the chance to run the country based on a family connection.
Power is in the genes. Political dynasties aren’t always bad. I do not think there is anything wrong with members of prominent political families wanting to serve the country as long as they are on the right track. The surname ‘Koirala’ will be a burden for leaders like Shekhar, Shashank and Sujata, who hail from Koirala family, if they do not fulfil the people’s expectations. New members of Koirala family have to get rid of the complication generated by their illustrious family. They must rise above the politics of fear and hate. BP Koriala’s legacy is both a glory and challenge to them. Expectations make us feel not only better but also sad when they are not met. Therefore, young Koiralas have to find the better way to win the people’s heart and fulfil the dream of BP.
(A telecommunication engineer, Joshi is the managing director New Millennium College)
Published The Rising Nepal