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Major Political Parties

Nepali Congress: <Top>

Between 1955 and 1991, there has been a major departure in the way of looking at social democracy by NC. Due to changes in the international environment and worldwide change in values, the stress has been on individual initiatives rather than doctrinaire social democracy. There is a gap between theoretical training given to party workers and socio-economic policies adopted during party conventions. Neither the central committee nor the cabinet has endorsed these policies.

Currently, there is a contradictory perception on the style of party functioning. There are some that claim that a gradual shift from leader-oriented practices to organizational practices in the conduct of party affairs has taken root, and the party is operating according to its constitution and organizational set up. There are others who still believe that the highest-ranking leaders have total sway on the party and that the democratization process is subservient to the leaders’ decisions. At any rate, the party faces two major challenges that have persisted for a long time, namely evaluation of members and enforcement of discipline among party members from top to bottom.

Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist): <Top>

The CPN-UML is a cadre-based party. It is the second largest party in the country with 68 seats in the House of Representatives. It advocates a unique brand of left ideology, known as People’s Multi-party Democracy, which was propounded by the late charismatic leader Madan Bhandari. The party is committed to competitive multi-party system but firmly believes that power can be attained through elections by winning over rival bourgeois parties. Often there are accusations made against the party for taking a revisionist line or that its party workers are behaving like "democrats" or "deviationists". The party overlooks these charges as it claims to maintain its image by striving peacefully to attain the ultimate goal of communism.

Presently, there are some reservations shown by the party on the constitution of the country but it believes it can still co-exist with the monarchy without any confrontation. It is prepared to compromise with the King in order to safeguard nationalism and promote development. Unlike in China where political parties are marginalized and are subservient to the Communist party, the CPN-UML will allow political parties to operate freely in Nepal when it comes to power.

Rastriya Prajatantra Party-RPP <Top>

The RPP is fully committed to pluralistic democracy, supporting constitutional monarchy, nationalism and economic liberalization. It is struggling between two poles: whether to discard past values altogether or to continue some traits that it sees valid, especially the features of nationalism.

The RPP leadership factor is uniquely personalistic as many of its top members had played influential role during the Panchayat era. When the RPP was formed in 1990, the need to switch over to democratic behaviour was quite taxing to those in leadership. Learning democratic practices in the management of the party was hard lesson for them in the new environment of multi-party culture as past hangovers had to be discarded. The command structure of the party is overwhelmingly influenced by personalities more than party ideology and people-based programmes. Often, there are compromises at work when problems of enforcing discipline in the party arise. The bottom-up approach to leadership formation has not developed though some new strategies have been formulated to streamline the party on a more rational basis.

Nepal Sadbhavana Party <Top>

Given the predominance of the rural sector in the national economy, with 80% of the people rural based, Nepal Sadhbhavana Party stresses on the need to empower rural people by making them aware of their rights under the new constitution. The party strives to put every active member to work in the rural sector for at least two weeks in a month. The justification for such a step is that there has been erosion of the culture of sacrifice. Partly this has been due to the rise of individualism during the thirty years of autocratic Panchayat rule when anyone addressing national issues had to face suppression and even imprisonment. Under the present democratic set up, the scope for reform exists though there are constitutional obstacles to issues raised by the party. Fundamentally, these issues cannot be resolved through simple enactment of present laws. Several reasons are cited for the lacuna. First, there are legal disputes on citizenship even for those who have been citizens for over twenty years. Second, the redundant Panchayat laws continue to operate. Third, the unitary structure of government cannot represent the interest and aspirations of the common people, including those living in the Terai. Fourth, there is rampant social and economic exploitation of the Terai where existing land reform laws and electoral system are inadequate as they cannot fully represent the actual population size. Finally, there is poor recruitment of the Terai people, especially in the army. The NSP demands a federal structure of government so that there is a greater national cohesion, unity and sense of well being among the people of Nepal. An amendment to the constitution is essential in order to guarantee the right of equality of citizens without any discrimination. The legitimate citizens of the Terai cannot be deprived of citizenship right.

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