Report on Democratization of Political Party
Organised by Center for Legal Consultancy
and Research (CeLCAR) and Sagarmatha Multiple College
21-22 December 2007, Nagarkot
The seminar began with formal inauguration
chaired by Dr. Prof. Chaitanya Mishara and with his few words
on the importance of inner party democracy. Mr. Hikmata Karki
made welcome speech on behalf of organizer.
Mr. Dev Raj Dhal, Country Representative of
FES, Nepal made a very scholarly and illuminating speech highlighting
the importance of inner party democracy and drawing many references
from history and the contemporary world. He opined that leader
should synthesize ideas and opinions scattered. A dichotomization
between party and citizens is deepening. This poses a threat
to democracy, therefore, must be overcome effectively. (For
details, see the paper)
Paper: Inner Party Democracy
Author: Khagendra Prasai
The paper entitled "Inner Party Democracy"
was presented by author Khagendra Prasai. The Paper covered
major issues of inner party democracy: justification for inner
party democracy, problems of inner party democracy in political
parties, constitutional regulation of party, elements of inner
party democracy, leadership and inner party democracy.
Hari Sharma, Chief Commentator
This paper has covered theoretical part well
but practical part is missing. The paper is a-historical as
it has ignored the historical development of our political parties.
At present we also, suffer from crisis of representation. In
some South Asian political parties, have a strong system and
culture of "high command".
We must also pay adequate attention to entry
or recruitment of new people. We must accept that the major
problem is that of leadership. I strongly disagree with Mr.
Prasai's idea of absolute transparency of all decisions and
decision-making process. Parties strategy, as they compete with
each other, can and should be confidential.
Pari Thapa: Marx idea of recall and
universal suffrage constitutes the best principles of direct
democracy. Democratic centralism, a system of inner party democracy
advocated by left parties has become ladder for 'gangism'. Our
culture is not research oriented. Political parties do not emphasize
scientific research and study, therefore, they have failed to
generate new knowledge and ideas essential for building of new
Udaya Raj Pandey: We must first democratize
ourselves in order to build a new Nepal. Our leaders wish to
remain in leadership or power till death. A good leader knows
not only when to take leadership but also when to leave leadership.
Sabitra Bushal: Those who lose in party
conferences are punished. Culture of toadyism is rampant.
Chet Raj: I think party funding is
an important element of inner party democracy which is missing
in this paper. 'Yes man' is favored and preferred by party leaders.
Sudip Shrestha: The method of election
matters in democracy.
Tika Ram Bhattarai: Is inner party
democracy equally attracted in all parties in all situations?
The good side of Nepali Congress's conference is that representatives
are elected from below. The good side of CPN UML is its culture
of discussion on issue, policy and ideology.
The issue of inner party democracy has been
raised by leaders when they are in minority and oppressed by
majority. Nomination is also a kind of election. Reservation
Constitutionalism is equally attracted in
party and state.
Ajambar Kangbang: In democracy the
order of priority is nation, people, party and leader. But this
order has reversed. Our politics is not issue-centric but lobby-centric.
The important question in the context, therefore, is how we
can develop critical or questioning mind. The process of recruitment
is serious as it can affect the entire life of party.
Yogesh Bhattarai: What is political
party? Are they like private organization or public forum? What
is the ideological justification of political party itself?
I mean, why should party exist? Our leaders and cadres lack
in intellectual ability to understand political events. Party
is an institution, therefore policy is primary. Is politics
profession or service?
Tirtha Koirala: Our leaders become
manager once they acquire top position. Nomination is a must.
It is not possible for others to make reasonable comment and
judgment on leaders as the formers do not know the latter' point
Rameshwor Phuyal: I do not agree with author on the point
that confidentiality is not needed. System of recall is very
important. In our parties, we have more Ganesh than Kumar. We
are more monarchical than democratic in our attitude and action.
We must initiate process of democratization of party.
Dhyan Bahadur Rai: We lack in capacity
and culture of entertaining questions. What our leaders look
for and prefer is indubitably Sepia rather than an informed
and critical member.
Bishnu Rijal: The author said Cuba has system of recall.
But how is it that single person is in power for more than four
decades? Leadership must be periodically subject to public endorsement.
Hari Sharma (Chief Commentator): Party
can not be egalitarian through and through. They need to be
hierarchical to some extent. All party business is the matter
of concern of members as well as of non-members.
Response from Author:
As regard the question of our leader clinging
to power for long or rather till death, we need to investigate
the "why" of this kind of tendency. I have good reason
and ample evidence to substantiate this that such tendency has
been given rise to and boosted by absence of democracy in inner
party affairs. Some have suggested term limit as an effective
check to corruption of power. The important question is not
how long a person remains in power but how he or she exercises
power. If his or her exercise of power is governed by fundamental
universal principal democracy.
If party claims to be democratic, inner party
democracy is attracted in the case of all parties in all situations.
There is no denying in some situation like autocratic regime;
parties may keep some of their decisions and organization confidential,
but they are not supposed to sacrifice fundamental principles
of democracy with an excuse of 'situation' and 'need'.
If nomination is also a type of election,
then what is not election?
Some of our friends have stressed the need
of confidentiality. What I have not understood is where and
why it is needed for political parties in an open society. On
the one hand, we demand transparency, where as, on the other,
apparently contradictorily, we defend confidentiality and secrecy.
Commentator Mr. Sharma said that strategies must be confidential.
In the meantime, he forgets that all strategies of competition
and any other affair must be governed by fundamental principles
of democracy. Moreover, in order to acquire power should party
prepare themselves for open, fair and democratic competition
or should they use conspiratorial tactics?
Ishwor Pokhrel, Chairperson
We cannot understand this problem independent
of the historical and social context. We can have academic discussion
but solution does not stem from mere academic discussion. A
good leader is not only a good manager. But one needs to be
a good manager in order to be a good leader. The entire party
must have ownership of making of ideology, party constitution
and leadership. What is meant by respect to dissent position
in concrete terms? If parties do not become updated in ideology,
they become outdated. Many evils have entered into politics
primarily because we take politics as profession rather than
Paper: Modernization of Political Party
Author: Bhesh Raj Adhikar and Hikmat Karki
Chandra Bhandari, Chief Commentator
Everything depends on leadership. Should politics
be profession or service? Participation, discussion and consensus
are today's need. Nothing else is more important than this.
We need a new kind of schooling for our political parties, their
leaders and members.
Udaya Raj Pandey: The members of party
must be able to feel their ownership in policy formulation and
leadership building. What kind of system is needed for this?
Democracy can sustain only when people can feel their share.
Pari Thapa: I think transformation
rather than modernization is appropriate. Our parties are hungry
N. P. Sout: Our parties are poor at
practicing internal democracy. We still carry feudal culture
Our leadership lack in dynamism. How can we build up secular
Tirtha Koirala: We talk about human
rights as fashion not as expression of those ideals which we
have really internalized.
Rabindra Khanal: If we apply principle
of secularism to build up federal state, the division must be
based on regions rather than on ethnicity or any other factor.
Sarita Neupane: Party must be made
accountable to people. Mobility brings modernization.
Puskar Gautam: We need to develop a
clear concept of what constitutes modernization.
Tika Ram Bhattarai: What is standard
of modernization? Let us bring our discussion to the ground
reality. Talking on vacuum does not help. We need to make a
provision in the new constitution which will allow the judicial
review of statue of political parties.
Rameshwor Phuyal: What constitutes
Jhalak subedi: Political party itself
is a modern invention. Will party make their stand clear on
social and economic issue?
Bhanu Bhakta Dhakal: Party must have
clear ideology. Leadership must be build on the basis of ideology
not on age.
Chaitanya Mishra: Modernity is an age
specific concept not an eternal one. Standard of modernity is
missing. We must attempt a concrete definition of modernity.
Response from Author:
We have not undermined ideology. We will try
to concretely define modernity and include in the paper.
Shankar Pokhrel, Chairperson
There is a need to establish ownership of
party members on policy and ideology formulation. The broader
the ownership, the stronger the party. We need to address social
issue only then we can address class question.
Capitalism and socialism has influenced each
other. The success of one has compelled another to change.
We need to initiate reformulation of ideology.
Four factors must be paid attention to: ideology, organization,
movement and life style. The quality of leadership is a relative
phenomenon. One time successful leader may not prove so the
Paper: Deliberative Democracy: A Socialist
Author: Ghanashyam Bhushal
Pari Thapa, Chief Commentator
The topic suits Nepali Congress and Communist
both. Marxism is primarily a humanist philosophy therefore it
demands conscious participation of individuals. Is election
always practical? Or is nomination needed in certain circumstances.
Can everything be made transparent?
Chandra Bhandari: The paper is based
on certain ideology? Is it advisable to carry out discussion
being based on certain ideology? Classless society is unnatural
and utopian. When people become conscious, do they do revolution
for power or for transformation of society?
NP Sout: The author contends that man
is not free in capitalism. Is this true? The paper seems to
Rajan Bhattarai: The paper must be
locally contextualized. How should we perceive individual freedom?
What is the limit of such freedom? As long as class exists,
individuals are never equal.
Geja Sharma Wagle: To me Nepali Congress
and Left parties share many things ideologically and organizationally.
Shankar Pokhrel: The paper seems to
be more academic. It is not much relevant to go back to Marx
to find solution to contemporary problems. Political power can
be achieved through ideology, organization and support of people.
The paper has stressed ideology and organization only. We must
take into consideration our society and its level of consciousness
in order to make a good start. The split in parties can be attributed
to clash of personalities. In order to solve this problem, leaders
must be distributed posts and positions.
Tirtha Koirala: The paper is more hypothetical.
What revolution constitutes depends on how we perceive. What
are the fundamental methods of organization? Do technologies
of communication have some influence on organization?
Sabitra Bhushal: It is very crucial
that all members of party have and feel their ownership on leadership
and ideology. The marginalized sections may remain further marginalized
if everyone is to be elected. We must manage this.
Tika Bhattarai: I do not disagree with
author. But he needs to elaborate the organizational technique
and method suitable for deliberative democracy.
Khim Lal Bhattarai: How can we prevent
our parties from splitting.
Chet Raj: Marxism is not adequate to
solve present day problem. We need to resort to Gandhi too.
What decisively matters is leadership.
Responses from Author: The first question
we must answer is whether Marxism is right or wrong. Only then
we can make choose to be Marxist or non-Marxist. The idea that
all members of organization must be equal, which Marx and Engels
emphasized, is not wrong. The question is how can we put this
principle into practice. Let us not make a sweeping conclusion
that Marx's ideas are irrelevant.
The way issue of ethnicity has bee raised
is surely a bourgeoisie agenda. We need more deliberation on
Chaitanya Mishra, Chairperson
If deliberation is used within progressive
framework, the consequences are progressive. But if deliberation
takes place within irrational and dogmatic framework, the results
may be regressive.
If we really practice deliberation, parties
are not needed. Parties may impose. A free discussion may take
place when individuals are not bound by anything.
Paper: Role of Political Party in Multi
Author: Dr. Rabindra Khanal
NP Sout, Chief Commentator
Two organs of the state- executive and legislature
are run by the political party. We need to investigate into
frequent split-up of political parties after 1990. Were there
reasonable ground for split of NC and CPN UML? What is the fundamental
difference between left and democratic party? We have poor political
Our leaders wish to remain in power for good.
In western democracy, parties do not direct and control the
government. But in Nepal such voice has been powerfully raised.
This is, perhaps, because of our compulsion to work with Communists.
Our parties have failed to work out common agendas.
GS Bhushal: Survival politics is done
by leaders for their own survival in party's important position
and power not for survival of party and nation. We are extreme
short of vision. Our politics has never been guided by vision
but has always centered around immediate practical question.
With clear vision in our mind, we can drastically transform
our society and nation.
Pari Thapa: The most important question
of present time is that of state-building. Party is the representative
of certain category of people. Representation and governance
are different things.
Bhanu Dhakal: Author seems to lose
objectivity. He seems biased against left movement and parties.
Today's problems can be largely attributed to inability of our
Udaya Raj Pandey: Parties have failed
to institutionalize the achievement made in last several years.
The author conclusion that CPN UML has deviated from its ideology
is absolutely wrong.
Sudip Shrestha: How capable and confident
are our parties to make sovereign decision?
Khim Lal: Our leaders who were quite
successful during movement phase turned out to be unsuccessful
during reconstruction phase. We need different vision and political
culture for reconstruction phase.
Chet Raj: We need long term vision.
Were there hidden factors behind the split-up of parties? Has
this present coalition been built internally that is to say
by members of coalition or by some outsiders?
Sabitra Bhushal: We have fought within
ourselves. We need a new political culture.
Chandra Bhandari: We need to make a
critical analysis of our history. Our leaders are too weak at
management. We have elite culture.
Bhesh Raj: Paper should give some space
to discuss method of achieving goals. Why do party split? If
party had been adequately democratic, we would not have lost
Umesh Jung Rayamajhi: We have adequate
resources to fulfill our needs. What we need at this moment
is vision and planning.
Dhyan Bhahdur Rai: We believe that
we can strengthen ourselves by weakening others. To what extent
is party-ization acceptable?
Response from Author: Thank you all
for you invaluable comments. I will make correction in my papers
taking taking into account comments raised here.
Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli, Chairperson
We must rely on the best achievement made
by entire humanity. International standards matter and must
be given due recognition. Political parties need to be based
on ideology. Parties must be adequately transparent and democratic.
Our road is that of peace and democracy.
At the end of seminar, the participants stressed
on the continuity of seminar on such themes and subjects.