INTERVIEW: Dr. Chandra Bhandari has been the central committee member of the main opposition Nepali Congress party. He also served as a member of the constituent assembly from Gulmi-2 in 2013 that was instrumental in establishing the federal republican constitution of Nepal.
Dr. Bhandari was recently interviewed by the President of the Reporters Club and senior journalist Rishi Dhamala. The following are excerpts from that interview which was conducted in Nepali.
How do you evaluate the by-election results?
This by-election has shown that the citizens are now aware and partisan coalitions and distribution do not work, it has to be addressed by the people. The citizens have given a clear sign of what they want through the results of the by-election.
Why did NC win in Bhaktapur, but lose in Pokhara -2?
We had lost both the seats in the previous election. NC has always lost in places like Bhaktapur, Dharan, and Pokhara. Comparing it with previous results we have significantly improved. The results have proven that if NC selects their candidate, and avoids sharing and distribution it can win. But I am not trying to say that we have now become perfect.
You had earlier said that the Government has not been working, but it is seen that it is?
The outcome of the government’s work has not been by the activities of the government, the results are different. This election showed that people are now looking for a new outlook, and not partisan. It has indicated that they wan’t work and progress, not just simply raising hands and giving big speeches. The people are now looking for visionaries who can implement plans into concrete actions.
Does that mean the public now likes only the Congress and the Communists?
People have supported their respective parties. Receipts are cut for individuals who then adhere to their party whether they are corrupt or dishonest it does not matter. The results of the present elections have shown that people can unite for their party, public opinion is divided across party lines, and Nepal can be a good example of partisan politics.
Did the government’s unpopularity make your party win?
I have answered this before. NC did win but due to the factionalism of different senior leaders and groups, a different internal politics was played. Instead of working for the aspirations of the people, leaders were involved in factional and group politics that had everyone divided. Similarly, on the other hand, Nepali citizens were facing rising expenses and corruption, but rather than looking at these critical aspects their political party was dearer for them. Other new parties that have come as an alternative were not successful at all. We won in Bhaktapur and Dharan due to hard work, if we continue raising the issues of corruption and insecurity I feel that NC will do well in the coming days.
Has this election lost leadership in many ways?
In my view, I do not think any leader can drive the system forward.
The anti-India slogan you carried for the elections, has it been a loss or gain?
We have not carried any anti-India slogan. It is pertinent that everybody speaks when it comes to the protection of our nation. We cannot submit to any other country. The situation has gone awkward, we have tried our best to save it. Issues that are connected with nationalism should not be compared in terms of gains or a loss, which is not right.
Even China has encroached borders of Nepal, but NC President asked the internal wing to protest against India, why?
The Prime Minister and the President of the NC raised the issue and had a strong stand. But the Ministers that were concerned with the Cabinet and the bureaucracy were unable to do much and they portrayed lack of concern.
Even leaders from the NC who were given responsibility by the party president were unable to question or provide a formidable action plan. No side could come out with a strong statement for the nation. I have also noticed a discord between the Prime Minister and leaders of the opposition parties.