The rise of the Rastriya Swatantra Party (RSP) is the biggest takeaway from the Nepal elections in 2022. Having tentatively 21 seats including seven through the first-past-the-post system and 14 (yet to be decided) through the proportional representation system in such diversified and divided parliament can play a crucial role in making and breaking government as well to advocate its voices and agendas.
Relatively new and amateur in politics, Rastriya Swatantra Party has many dreams and aspirations to uphold. Here are some suggestions for the nascent party so that it can retain people’s trust in it.
1. Stop being populist
I recently saw a video in which Rastriya Swatantra Party President Rabi Lamichhne was speaking against the ratification of the MCC grant agreement. Initially, you can take advantage of the outrage of common people saying the party is against the so-called “anti-national” pact. But, it can have a long-lasting impact on your party’s foreign policies and images.
2. Accept the constitution
Rastriya Swatantra Party should never vouch for the Hindu nation-state. In a country where 80% of the population is Hindu, a Hindu nation-state will always have a popular vote. I think every MP in the RSP knows that an individual can have religion but a state can never in this era. So, vouching for a Hindu state can earn you some brownie points, but it can be counterproductive in the long run as secularism is firmly engraved in the constitution.
Meanwhile, the party did not take part in the provincial elections, which implied its anti-federalism orientation. But, in reality, the newborn party might not have found good candidates to contest the provincial elections. Nonetheless, it should never have an anti-federalism tendency. The RSP should function well within the framework of inclusive democracy, federalism, and secularism.
3. Be an opposition
We lack a rigid and firm opposition in our long parliamentary practices; be the one. Make sure the voices of the ground are heard in the parliament and watchdog the government. Most of your MPs – young and vibrant -might have the desire to be there and change it.
Rastriya Swatantra Party is not in a position to lead the government, so having one or more ministers will have little impact, which will ultimately lead to despair in the public within a short period. Gaining the trust of the people for five years being an opposition will be more fruitful for the next elections.
4. Stop being an activist
Activism is a vital aspect of social reform in the field but not in parliament. Most Rastriya Swatantra Party MPs are from the same background, so changing their position from an activist to a lawmaker is a difficult job.
There is a stark difference between an activist and a lawmaker. An activist can only advocate but a lawmaker can change. I saw the RSP president renovating the water supply and monitoring the chemical fertiliser supply status in Chitwan. It might have a first positive impact on the voters, but it is not the job of the MP. As we do not have a clear demarcation of people-elected representatives’ jobs, MPs seem eager to perform the tasks of local representatives.
5. Exercise rigorous democracy within the party
Rastriya Swatantra Party members are from various fields and backgrounds. There will be great differences within the party. But, no worries as democracy is all about having dialogues and conversations. Have hot debates; let your opinions be heard, and have a common ideology. Do not let the image of President Lamichhane overshadow your party and its ideologies and policies.
Having a rigorous democratic exercise can allure the youth for lateral entries into the party as it seems too difficult in other parties in Nepal.
6. Address the “young” issues
Unemployment is a rampant issue, but the unemployment of skilled human resources is a stark one. Rastriya Swatantra Party should address the issues of brain drain and climate change affecting the lives in the Himalayan region. Address the young issues that affect the young people of the country who will potentially be voting for you for the first time. Be a bridge between the unheard voices of young minds in the parliament.