Challenges Before The Government
The present government came into existence about a month ago with hope that it would leave no stone unturned to make the groundwork for the full implementation of the constitution promulgated last year. It need not be reiterated that as soon as the constitution was promulgated with a whopping 90 per cent majority, the country faced great challenges in implementing it due to the Madhes agitation and the unofficial Indian embargo against the country.
It is an irony that even after the country has limped back to normalcy, there are still hurdles lurching somewhere as far as the implementation of the constitution is concerned. The biggest hurdle seems to be the intransigent stand taken by the Madhesi parties that some constitutional provisions be amended to address their disgruntlement. This is the same disgruntlement which the Madhesi parties could not get the erstwhile governments to address despite their long agitation, including the Kathmandu-centric one and a hunger strike. The Madhesi parties’ demands were almost ditched by the Oli-led government but with a change of government the Madhesi parties are coaxing the government into amending the provisions they have expressed their dissatisfaction with.
But as things stand, amending the constitution, that too before it is fully implemented, is not an easy proposition. A two-thirds majority of the members of parliament is required to accomplish the task. The incumbent government thus requires the support of at least the main opposition party, the CPN-UML. The CPN-UML is firm with the demands of the Madhesi parties. And the Madhesi parties are not in the mood to let the government implement the constitution till their demands are met. But the government has not drawn up any concrete roadmap to address the demands of the Madhesi parties.
There is a mixed view on holding the local, provincial and federal elections by Magh 7, 2074 BS. Some leaders are in favour of it, while others are against it. Out of the three tiers of government, the structure of the local bodies is yet to be finalised. The Local Body Restructuring Commission has proposed 565 local units. But the CPN-MC and the Nepali Congress are against it. They want more than 1,000 local units. This clearly shows that they are contemplating introducing the spoils system even in the local bodies. More local units means more cost but they are least bothered about it. The government is, therefore, mired in the quagmire of holding the elections by framing necessary laws.
On the other hand, the government has invited controversies. As soon as it was installed, it decided to withdraw the names of the nominees for ambassador for various countries on the grounds that they have been nominated by the previous government on the basis of their political affiliations. Yes, it is good not to nominate any person on the strength of his/her political affiliation but it is the political parties and leaders that indulge in politicising almost every sector, be it health, education, sports or government entities. Due to over-politicisation of every field, the country has been in the doldrums when it comes to development and socio-economic transformation.
The cabinet decision to provide a financial assistance of Rs. six million to ex-President Ram Baran Yadav for the treatment of prostrate cancer has kicked up a ruckus in the media as well on the social media. Pillaging the state coffers in the name of financially helping dignitaries and ex-dignitaries cannot be justified on moral and other grounds. The way the dignitaries and ex-dignitaries dash to foreign countries in the name of treatment is also highly objectionable. These are the people who should set examples by availing themselves of treatment at domestic hospitals. Further, some hospitals are also equipped with VVIP cabins. Still, obsession with flying abroad or overseas is still entrenched in the minds of such dignitaries and ex-dignitaries.
The act of handing a secret letter over to the Indian establishment has also brewed brouhaha. Despite criticism coupled with a vehement demand for disclosing the contents of the letter from all quarters, the government is not ready to reveal what is contained in the letter. The opposition and other parties are suspecting that the letter contains the matter relating to demarcation of provinces in line with the demands of the Madhesi parties. Delineation of borders is an internal matter and it would be a diplomatic faux pas to seek suggestions from a foreign country. This will further encourage foreign powers to poke their noses into the internal affairs of the country, which is, beyond doubt, against the sovereignty of the country. However, the contents of the letter are still arcane and will hopefully come out into the open in due course.
The primary objective of the government is to implement the constitution by setting the stage for elections to the three-tier government. For this, the government should make preparations in full swing. The opposition and other parties, including the Madhesi parties, also need to be taken into confidence. Prudence dictates that only the synergy among the political parties will hasten the implementation of the constitution. Unfortunately, the political leaders tend to look at one another with a pinch of salt. As such, the political landscape shows that there is no sign of this basic task getting off the ground. Instead, the government is bogged down in other matters.
The political culture is bizarre in this part of the world. In the developed countries, a government is allowed to run its full term. But in the Nepalese context, running a government is based on the spoils system among the political parties. It is the behaviour and activities of the political parties that have contributed to prolonging political instability and transition in the country. Unless they mend their ways and stand united for the implementation of the constitution, the country will be bound to remain in transition for several years to come. So it is high time the government acted prudently by winning the confidence of the opposition and other political parties. It is crystal clear that unless the constitution is implemented, the republican dispensation will not be institutionalised.