Prachanda’s Exemplary Resignation For Political Integrity
Since he got elected as the 39th Prime Minister of Nepal some ten months ago on August 2, 2016, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ was accused of ‘Lampasarbad’ or kneeling down before the Indian interest by the main opposition party, CPN-UML. As a self-acclaimed nationalist force, the UML should have been very happy when PM Prachanda wanted to resign by addressing the Parliament. But the UML disrupted the parliament proceedings on May 23 which prevented the PM from addressing it before he submitted the resignation to President Bidya Devi Bhandari. On May 24, PM Prachanda addressed the people through a live telecast and resigned from the post saying his resignation was for political honesty. And he was true. In a power sharing agreement, his party, CPN-Maoist Center, had reached an understanding with the Nepali Congress (NC) to hand over the power to the NC after holding the local election within nine months since August. As the first phase of local poll was over and the NC was piling pressure on the MC to implement the agreement, PM Prachanda, who is also the chairman of the CPN-MC, had no choice but to resign if he was for political honesty. And he did it.
Unlike his first inning as the PM in 2008 that lasted for about nine months when he was forced to resign due to unconstitutional move of the then President Dr. Ram Baran Yadav over the army chief row, Prachanda’s tenure as the PM in his second inning that lasted for ten months since August 2016 has become highly successful. He appropriately mentioned in his address to the nation that he was elected as the PM amid uncertainties about implementation of the constitution by means of elections. Over 15-hour long power outage has been usual for over a decade. Economic growth has been limited to 4-5 percent for many years and there was no hope that it would increase any sooner. Trust deficit among the parties was high due to the fact that the major parties such as NC and UML had defaulted on power sharing agreements. The NC had cheated the UML while the UML had tricked the CPN-MC. The ruling coalition between the NC and MC would not have been possible had the UML adhered to the power sharing pact between the UML and MC. Similarly, if NC had adhered to the power sharing deal with the UML, there would not have been any ruling coalition between the UML and the MC.
It was now the turn of the MC to either trick the NC or uphold the power sharing deal and promote political integrity and trust among the political parties. Unlike the UML and the NC, the MC opted for political trust among the parties by refraining from greed for power. Moreover, the Prachanda government proved it possible which was considered to be impossible- ending the load-shedding. When the government talked about ending power outage and took steps to that end, it was ridiculed particularly by the main opposition UML. Instead of encouraging the government for trying to do good job, the main opposition used its trade union members in the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) to protest against the NEA chief, Kulman Ghising, who was working hard for ending the chronic load-shedding. When the end of load-shedding was on trial, the UML accused the government of misusing reservoir of the Kulekhani hydropower. When the allegation was proved wrong, it attributed the end of load-shedding to increased power import from India, but the main opposition never offered a constructive appreciation of the government’s success. In fact, the UML suffered from a totally negative attitude toward the MC-led government simply because the MC had formed ruling coalition with the NC by leaving the UML-MC ruling coalition after the UML cheated it in the power sharing deal.
With the projection of over 7 percent economic growth for this year, hopes have run high. And this has been possible mainly because of the end of the power outage. In this regard, the Prachanda government should be credited for steering the country toward the path of high economic growth.
By far the most important achievement of the government is that it has been successful in holding the first phase of the local election. With the local poll in three province in a peaceful, fair and cheerful environment, a concrete step has been taken to implement the constitution at the grassroots level. Prime Minister Prachanda was right when he said that the people elected their own Singha Durbar, which means the central government secretariat. Yes, now onwards, the local units will have their own legislature, judiciary and executive. Thus the people at the grassroots will practice real local self-governance.
Equally important is the fact that the Prachanda government has also been successful in maintaining a balanced relation with both the neighbours. As its predecessor, the Oli government, was highly appreciated for inking significant agreements with China, particularly in the immediate aftermath of shocking Indian blockade, there was suspicion that the Prachanda government would serve only the Indian interests at the cost of national interests. But this all has been proved false apprehension now. The government has signed a memorandum of understanding related to the Belt and Road Initiative with China ignoring Indian pressure against it. A relation with India has been normalized owing to the high level visits including the visit by Indian President Pranab Mukherjee to Nepal and President Bidya Devi Bhandari’s visit to India.
It is yet to be seen how long the NC-MC ruling coalition goes on and how the hopefully NC led government ensures the second phase of local polls by taking the disgruntled Madhesi parties on board, it can be said that the coalition has resulted in something good for the country.