The New Year Of Renewed Hopes
Nepali New Year 2074 has just started and it is a time when people make resolutions, for instance, reports say that Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ and Health Minister Gagan Thapa vowed to give up drinking while taking part in the morning march orgnanised by the Health Ministry to mark the New Year. It is also a time when the bygone year is assessed from different angles and aspects and the achievement calculated. And it is the achievements which makes one feel happy or disappointed with regard to the past.
The year 2073 did not give us much, but it renewed hopes, hopes of us all as a nation. Particularly, the end of load shedding, the projection of higher economic growth rate, announcement of local polls, slow but steady process to have railway links with China as evidenced by the commitment of PM Prachanda during his recent visit to the northern neighbor constitute the main pillars of the progress we made last year. It is up to us how we build on them and move forward to make greater achievement for our long cherished dream of peace and prosperity.
Light and relief
Electricity has been an indispensable part of life now even in rural areas for various reasons including for the use of mobiles phones, televisions and radios. In the cities, life without electricity is terrible even in our least developed country. Despite all this, there used to be power cut for over 12 hours a day till October last year. It was beyond imagination that the load-shedding days would end so soon. Political leaders or ministers in the concerned ministry had been saying that situation of power outage would end within a few years. And we as people had no choice but to believe them.
And when the power cut seemed to have been ended from November in the capital city, it was something unbelievable. It had happened just because of the will power of particularly two responsible persons, the energy minister and the chief of the Nepal Electricity Authority. The way load shedding has been ended makes it clear that we are in dire need of efficient and responsible political as well as administrative leaders. The end of load-shedding is the end of darkness and our move toward the light. Its impact has already been seen in the economic activity but it has a greater positive impact on our national psychology. It has been a great relief and charged us all with a new hope.
Like load-shedding, there is a political problem. Since the new constitution was promulgated in September 2015, the United Democratic Madhesi Front or the Morcha has been disgruntled. As the first amendment to the constitution did not satisfy the UDMF, the government registered the second. The Morcha asked the government to table a third one by withdrawing the second one. The government did the same simply because the local elections have to be held on May 14. But now, the ever dissatisfied Morcha has said the third amendment proposal can also not address their demands. They have decided to boycott the polls and they have decided to impose indefinite general strike from a couple of days before the local poll day. Their protest programme is clear: disrupt the polls.
Now the government is under pressure. It said the amendment proposal was registered as per consent of the Morcha. But now it is clear it is not. Then why did the government tell a lie? If the government is telling the truth why is Morcha unwilling to participate in the polls? These are serious questions. The Nepali Congress has decided to hold intensive discussions with the Morcha on the issues. But the question is how long the parties can try to appease the Morcha if it is unwilling to understand the power balance in the parliament. The main opposition has been opposed to the UDMF demands.
Surely, NC lawmakers from province no. 2 have urged party leadership to bring UDMF on board for election. District presidents of the party from them have also urged the central leadership to put off the poll if doing so makes it sure that the UDMF participates in the poll. Certainly, much more attention is being given to the Morcha, but it is likely that either there will be no election or if there is election it will be in two phases if the Morcha sticks to its guns. But once the local poll is held, the Morcha will have a little political ground to play its tactics.
The Morcha should know that boundaries of province no. 4 and 5 are unlikely to be changed as long a present power balance remains. It is very unlikely that the Morcha will be overwhelmingly victorious in the upcoming elections, and that all because the continuous strikes has made the people’s lives really difficult in the southern plains called the Madhes or Terai. It should also know that local polls are unlikely to be postponed now.
If politics is management, our politics has failed miserably in managing resources and mobilising them properly. Our politics failed to tap the development opportunities or resources provided by the remittances. The government could have channelised the money sent by migrant workers for infrastructure development. Had it stood as a guarantee of the investment, we would have east-west electric railways in operation by this time. Even then, although lately, the energy ministry has introduced an innovative programme to tap the opportunity of remittance for power generation.
Let’s hope that such programmes are launched by other ministries for involving the migrant workers in national development through financial investment. It would be a great source of hope if there were programmes from the government side to tap remittances for development so that hard-earned foreign currency is spent in purchasing technological equipment to construct infrastructure. Doing this will ensure financial future of both the country and the migrant workers.