Ideological Conflict in Nepal

Essay, 2011
9 Pages



The ideological conflicts among individuals, groups, political parties or nations occur in the process of acquiring power, position and prestige for safeguard their interests. Discussion on ideological conflicts and structural contradictions among principal actors in achieving national goal of peace and constitution has shown that their intra and inter party conflict, undemocratic behaviour, problem in ideological transformation of Maoists have obstructed the task of democratic transformation. The difficulty to democratic transition is ethnic identity rather than ideological conflict. This may determine the ideology of new regime, structure of authority, and federal values and roles of hardcore Maoists.

1. Human Ideology and Institution

Wo/men have their need and want that bring them together and compel for grouping. People justify their action on public issues on the basis of one or the other ideology. When diverse groups control over land, power resources, money and power, ideological conflict in politics defined as the struggle for acquiring power position to safeguard the interest of individual or group or political party is obvious (Jangam et al 1997:173). The emergence of strong group, violation of rule, practice of inequality, exploitation and hegemony by the regime leads to sharp disagreement because of prominence of ideology. Ideology which unites people gives identity to them and legitimizes the authority through social contact. The legitimacy produces and maintains a "belief that the existing political institutions are the most appropriate for society"(Lipset; 1975:52). Political stability is the consequences of recognition of identity and legitimacy of the government. People may feel that the regime has provided privilege and security to them.

In fact, every regime is based on political ideology which is the super structure of collective thought about the ideals of common good society, type of political regime and distribution of political power within the system. Differences in forms of political regime and distribution of political power within the political system are the causes of political ideology. Human ideology shapes state institutions. When the political regime fails to merge both personal and social identities it leads to a situation of conflict. In a society there may be several political 'ism' or ideologies such as Maoism, Communism, Liberalism, Socialism, Islamism and many more. All these political 'ism' or ideologies offer an account of existing order, a model of desire, future vision of good society and how political change should be (Heyhood, 2002). All the 'ism' or ideologies do not offer a common regime. When two or more ideologies compete for identity and legitimacy emergence of ideological conflict is obvious. It is a natural phenomenon of a fragile state like Nepal.

2. Emergence of Ideological Conflict in Nepal

Nepal is a nation state and sovereign country in South Asia. The credit goes to Prithivi Narayan Shah who launched the mission of unifying petty states to form a nation state and put the unified Nepal into centralized system of governance. He legitimised the authority through Hindu political ideology and gave Nepali as the identity of individuals and link language too. However, following the death of founding father, the conflict for authority between Pandeys vs. Thapas and inter Shah, the county entered into political instability. Jung Bahadur took the benefits of situation and instituted Rana regime that lasted till 1951. His action terminated the direct rule of king. During the Rana regime the main conflict was between Rana and Shah because Shah was derelict from the power. Even within the Ranas there was conflict for power. Following the rise of political parties, the Rana regime gradually loosed legitimacy. Ultimately, it overthrows the Rara regime in 1951 and established democracy in the country. It brought changes in traditional concept of legitimacy into democratic legitimacy. The Ranas, King and political parties were the main actors of new regime. The king accepted constitutional monarchy and committed to establish parliamentary democratic system in Nepal. The main aim of the new regime was to empower the common people through the establishment of a common good political system.

The new rulers forgot this when they came in power even after political change of 1951. The leading politicians and political groups fought for their own interest instead of taking the country into the path of human development. They neither established 'equality, citizenship and democracy' nor restored peace in the country (Weinstocks, 2002; 76). As a result, there was identity clash among various groups in different parts of the country (Gupta, 229). The parties never collaborated in developing a common concept in strengthening democracy. Political instability characterised by continuous deterioration of law and order help to strengthen king's position. Prince Mahendra became new king of Nepal after the death of Tribhuvan. Hereafter, conflict of ideology, identity and legitimacy entered in Nepalese politics. The king was not happy with the behaviour of political parties and the 'idea of a parliamentary process headed by a popular Prime Minister' (Baral, 2004: 13). The conflict between king vs. Nepali Congress (NC) and among the political parties brought the parliamentary system to an end in 1960. King Mahendra instituted partyless Panchayat system (1960-1990) and legitimised absolute power. Both King Mahendra and his descendant King Birendra suppressed ethnic identities in the name of nation building. It became the source of conflict between pro monarch vs. NC and Left parties, ethnic diversity vs. mono language, and mono religion. The jana andolan of 1990 restored democracy but failed to establish sovereign power, identity, ideology and rule of law through promulgation of constitution. The political change had just shifted the power from monarch to political parties who became the agents of elites. They became failure to govern the nation according to democratic procedures. To them, power, property and privilege became the prime interest. This brought in frustration among common people because the democratic values and institutions were continuously eroded. Further, smaller parties helped in deinstitutionalisation of democracy. Emergence of political instability had become the consequent result of bad governance (Kumar 2000, Hachhethu 2000, Baral 2004).

The radical communist (Maoist) took the benefits of weakness of electoral democracy and initiated civil war since 1996. They delivered sweet dreams to deprived and disadvantaged people. Strong support of discriminated and disadvantaged population to Maoist provided the ground for the war. The ideological conflicts became deeper between Monarchs vs. Maoist, parliamentary parties vs. Maoist, security force vs. Maoist combatants after the declaration of civil war. The hard liner communist ideology became dominant in the polity of Nepal. In the wake of people's war parliamentary system became unable to function. It failed to hold general election on its scheduled date. Consequently it facilitated King Gynandra to take the executive power in his hands. He tried to implement his ideology, identity and legitimacy by holding local election but he failed. His action worsened the relationship between the king and parliamentary parties. The king refused to handover power back to the people until his mission was not completed. The personality clash between the King and Girija Prasad Koirala or the king's action brought different ideological parties closer through a political understanding. Hereafter, absolute democracy became the common goal of all parties.

Following the success of April Movement 2006, Nepal entered into democratization process. Institutionalization of democracy again came in the hands of political parties. It abolished monarchy and brought the Maoist into mainstream and turned Nepal into a federal democratic republic state. The constitution assembly (CA) has 601 members whose primary function is to frame the constitution in time. But, the leaders of the major political parties engaged in power struggle instead of promulgating a generally acceptable constitution to all. The existence of two opposing political visions in the CA created uncompromising ideological division among leaders. As a result peace and constitution processes are entrenched between these two fractions.


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Ideological Conflict in Nepal
Prithvi Narayan Campus  (P.N.Campus, Pokhara, Nepal)
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Than Bahadur Chhetri (Author), 2011, Ideological Conflict in Nepal, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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