Sashi Malla: Democracy? It’s The Elections Stupid!
Democracy? It’s The Elections, Stupid!
By Sashi Malla
Now that municipal elections are coming closer every day, the Communist-dominated Maoist-seven party front is getting the jitters. The Election Commission (EC) has made it very clear that preparations are well under way and that the security forces are willing and able to provide the necessary protection to ensure that the elections will be free and fair. Of course, the fiction cannot be maintained that it is the Election Commission alone that is responsible for the conduct of the elections. The EC is, indeed, an independent constitutional body that shall “conduct, supervise, direct and control the elections to Parliament and Local Authorities at the village, town and district levels’’ (Art. 104 of the Constitution), but the government of the day must guarantee the essential conducive atmosphere. The caretaker Royal government is, therefore, not an idle bystander, but very much involved in a multitude number of ways. It is not the EC, but HMG/N which has to ensure by diplomatic means that enough credible international observers arrive on the scene to monitor the elections. Otherwise, it may turn out to be only a Pyrrhic victory.
The Nepalese people, by and large, have realized that the Maoist-Communist-Kangresi front is just a camouflage for their real intentions. ‘Democracy’ for them is just a word, not something to be filled with life for just governance and the betterment of our people. Their agitation is just the means to achieve naked power and self-aggrandizement for the so-called leaders. After all, the people have realized that these are ‘failed’ politicians and democrats talking. If they open their mouths, they do so in an exaggerated, foolish, pretentious and deceitful manner. Just examine the way unsophisticated Indian politicians and diplomats lecture us about democracy and our so-called leaders consider them gurus-- and this from a country in the throes of a gigantic ministerial and parliamentary scam.
Just a week back, G. Koirala had announced that his bifurcated, disoriented party and the 7-party misalliance would boycott the elections. Then the word went out that even ‘disruptions’ would take place. Simultaneously, the terrorist Maoists announced ‘people’s actions’ against election officials and candidates. This was just Maoist and Communist double-speak for violence – intimidation, kidnapping and murder. If we still have not learnt our lessons, it should now be an eye-opener for all freedom and peace loving Nepalese that political ‘leaders’ have not spoken out against such a dastardly announcement. Asked about the Maoist intentions, G. Koirala had the shamelessness to dismiss it as an ‘internal matter’! At the same time the disingenuous international pope of human rights, Ian Martin, had the gall to send a feeler to the Maoists to find out what they actually mean by ‘people’s actions’!
Now, G. Koirala demands a postponement of the municipal elections so that ‘an environment could be created for talks between the King and the political parties.’ The pre-conditions for such talks, however, remain: the restoration of ‘absolute democracy’ (this is a misnomer; democracy can only be relative—the term being used only by illiterate fools or ignorant propagandists) and sovereignty of the people (without elections?). At the same time, he makes the tall claim on behalf of the Maoists that through the unilateral ceasefire, they had tried to create an environment for talks (with continued terrorist acts?) and that the postponement of elections would facilitate the process for the restoration of peace. There is absolutely no logic in Koirala’s convoluted argumentation, nor does it take cognizance of ground realities. There is unquestionably no reason for the King to deviate from the chartered course of action, especially taking into account his comrade-in-arms, Makune’s (Madhab Kumar) threat that the real struggle for the establishment of a ‘democratic republic’ would start after February 8. The very many inherent contradictions and the singularly lack of mutual coordination should be quite evident to any careful observer. To judge how ‘democratic republics’ under Communist regimes actually function, we have the lessons of history with regard to East Germany and Kampuchea and, of course, currently in North Korea.
It is very unfortunate that the words ‘democracy’ and ‘democratic’ are being used too loosely in the political discussion. It is indeed laughable that political dons with authoritarian and dictatorial tendencies like Koirala and Madhab bandy around such hallowed concepts. The eminent guru on democracy, Robert A. Dahl, has laid down that the sine qua non of political institutions of modern representative democratic government are elected officials, who should be chosen in ‘free, fair and frequent’ elections, i.e. without let or hindrance. What are we then to make of the announced ‘active boycott’? Without frequent elections, the sovereign people would lose a substantial degree of control over their elected officials and with it over the agenda. We must oppose firmly a return to sham democracy with rapacious despots and rampant corruption. The sovereign will of the people must prevail!