May 24, 2024, Friday
Nepal 1:37:26 pm

Saga of manifestoes


The Nepal Weekly
November 8, 2022

With various political parties issuing their manifestoes for Election 2022 the scenario of choice before voters is clear. Non-party candidates have added to that clarity through their poll-pledge – oral or written or digital or pictorial. The saga of manifestoes, named in varying ways ranging from list of commitment to pledges, has, on analysis, demonstrated an interesting aspect in Nepal’s history; it indicates more ritualistic and fashionable trends usually presented prior to polls. Those in leading positions in the political parties do not take interest in manifestoes as meaningful tools to use for their work if they are elected by people. Usually a committee or team constituted by party leadership gets a responsibility for preparing a formality-based paper named manifesto for a particular election; the same is presented as a formality at an official committee of the party concerned and get endorsed. People in general do not take care to refer to party-manifestoes prior to finalizing their choice on representatives. The trends compel people to question the very rationale of bringing out manifestoes; if they just end up as paper formalities to be fulfilled they would not be instrumental in guiding the plans and behavior of the winning parties and candidates. Those who gain power after a win mostly follow the lines leaders suggest and not the direction mentioned in the manifestoes. Usually manifestoes are sidelined or forgotten and there is no body inside the party mechanism that could steer leadership towards the documents. Media or civil society sometimes, in their own conveniences remind leaders of the manifestoes of their commitment made in the official document prior to the polls. The same is usually dismissed as an attempt to show weakness of leaders or parties. The practice requires a change for positive results. Manifestoes should be quality-raised with commitment to tackling the current public problems without abandoning the long term interest of the people and the state. They should reflect parties’ official commitment on a time-bound frame of five years. Manifestoes should be able to answer voters’ questions on why they should vote for the party in a particular periodic election. They should also mention why the party would not drop the agenda even in the event of losing a particular poll. If manifestoes could evolve as instruments of public service on a sustainable basis, people’s trust among politicos will be further strengthened. This will help the party grow over time as a meaningful party which could deliver on its promises. That would be a great accomplishment for political parties which are losing people’s trust these days in the country. All facing the election this time should try to change their policy of treating manifestoes and seek to make them as functional tools of delivery in the interest of public.