Protean Government: A Setback To Development


Uttam Maharjan


Since the rise of multi-party democracy in Nepal in the early 1990s, no government in Nepal has lasted its full term. There has developed a tendency among the political parties to make and break governments. Accordingly, the political parties outside the government are always on the lookout for dismantling the government in existence and forming their own government. A fresh example is the Oli-led government which has been rendered a caretaker government due to the resignation of Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, triggered by the no-trust motion registered against him by the CPN-Maoist Centre, Nepali Congress and other fringe parties.

A government makes plans and programmes for development. Before implementing them, the government gets ousted, thus leaving its plans and programmes in mid-stream. Successive governments do not deem it necessary to implement the plans and programmes formulated by their predecessors. Further, governments tend to make long-term and perspective plans, which hardly get implemented. (The road expansion drive initiated during the premiership of Baburam Bhattarai is, however, an exception. The drive is still going on, although at a slow pace.)


Political stability

For development plans to get off the drawing-board, it is necessary to have political stability. For this, a government needs to be in place for a full term so that its plans and programmes can be implemented. But the situation obtaining here in this part of the world is otherwise. Over two dozen governments have been formed in a span of 27 years since the introduction of multi-party democracy in the country. This shows that on an average a government lasts for a year.

The life of the Oli-led government has been nine months. The CPN-Maoist Centre and Nepali Congress have agreed to rule the country each for nine months, after which the country will go to the elections for the local, provincial and federal governments. This indicates that the new government that is going to be formed soon will last just nine months, followed by another government lasting as many months.

The nefarious tendency of changing governments began right with the change in the political system, resulting in the Panchayat system being done away with. At the time, the proclivity for pulling down the government in existence by withdrawing support to it or by registering a no-trust motion against it dominated the political circle. On the other hand, the head of the government would dissolve the parliament and go for the mid-term elections in the hope of securing a majority by taking advantage of his position as such.

The political leaders are well aware of the fact that changing governments frequently does not bode well for the country as far as development is concerned. But they are obsessed with lust for power. How to grab power by any means is their preoccupation. So they are always hell-bent on dismantling the existing government, no matter whether the government is faring well or not. They have premeditated accusations on standby to levy against the government as an alibi for unseating it.

Such an undesirable tendency has been carried over even to the present time when the country has gone republic and the constitution has been promulgated. The challenge before the government should be how to implement the constitution to institutionalise the republican dispensation so that the achievements gained through various popular movements can be safeguarded.

But as things stand, the struggle for power is ruling the roost. The Oli-led government has been reduced to a caretaker government and the CPN-Maoist Centre and Nepali Congress are all set to form a new government under the leadership of CPN-Maoist Centre strongman Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda.

At a time when all the political parties, ruling, opposition and fringe parties, should be engaged in implementing the constitution by formulating the necessary laws and making preparations for the local, provincial and federal elections, the change of the guard has taken on prominence. Now the attention of the political parties has been directed towards forming a new government, with the political leaders trying to grab ministerial berths in the new government. So the implementation of the constitution is on the backburner, at least till the new government is formed.

Before the resignation of Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, there were voices from various political leaders that a national consensus government should be formed so as to facilitate the implementation of the constitution. President Bidhya Devi Bhandari also urged the CPN-Maoist Centre and Nepali Congress to form such a government. But the presidential call went in at one ear and out the other of the political leaders of the CPN-Maoist Centre and Nepali Congress. Now, they are forming a majority government.


Bad omen

Anyway, the domination of the protean government over the politics of the country is not a good omen. It is one of the reasons for the country remaining underdeveloped despite so many plans and programmes designed to accelerate development. In a nutshell, a frequent change of the guard is a setback to development. As long as such a tendency persists, the country can hardly lift itself out of the morass of developmental backwaters it has been mired in for decades.




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