On The Threshold Of New Era
Dr. Narad Bharadwaj
With the sweeping victory of the left alliance in the federal and provincial elections held last Thursday, Nepal finds itself standing on the threshold of a new era. While victorious leaders bask in the warm sun shine of electoral glory, iconic left leader KP Oli has started to share his dreams for a peaceful, stable and prosperous country. The left alliance had made stability and prosperity the slogan of its electoral campaign. The result of the election showed that it had hit the right chord in the collective conscience of the people. The democratic alliance led by Nepali Congress, on the other hand, had tried to dissuade the voters from voting the left candidates by raising a spectre of ‘communist dictatorship’ which the voters clearly found unconvincing.
This time the people have given a thumping majority to the left alliance with a hope of achieving socio-economic transformation under the leadership of the left government. It is an onerous responsibility which the left alliance must take seriously in order not to let down the people who have voted them to power. The victory of the left alliance has infused a hope among the people that it will work to end the chaos of the present time and expedite the economic development in the country. In order to fulfil this expectation of the people, the alliance needs to focus on the most pressing concerns rankling on the conscience of the majority of the Nepali people.
The successful holding of the federal and the provincial election has clinched the debate on the legitimacy of the Constitution of Nepal 2015. The successful completion of the elections has foiled the domestic and foreign conspiracies to render the new constitution a dead letter. The broad participations of political parties in the election have established ownership of all the stakeholders over the constitution. This election was the most democratic and inclusive process ever exercised following the political change of 1990. Even those, who had boycotted the process of proclaiming the Constitution and had resorted to violent agitation, eventually participated in it. The importance of this election lies in this fact. The scale of participation of the people and their enthusiasm for exercising their suffrage was unprecedented in the electoral history of Nepal. Through this election the people have proved that the power of franchise can reverse the course of history.
The electorates have played their parts splendidly in the living theatre of history. Now it is for the elected leaders to play theirs. A lot of things cry out to be done but the resources are meagre. In order not to waste time and to be able to live up to the popular expectations, it is necessary to prioritise the focus on certain selected projects which have the potential to transform social life of the people and change the development landscape. The people have voted the left alliance because of their strong position on the issue of sovereignty and independence of the country. The election result is a reward to the left forces, especially the CPN-UML, for their courageous and tenacious fight against the tendency to fuel national disintegration.
The preference of the voters to the left candidates was recognition to the leading role played by the left forces in drafting and promulgating the Constitution of Nepal 2015. At a time when insidious plans were afoot to tear the harmony and diversity of the Nepali society to shreds and external interests were working overtime in the guise of human rights, development, capacity enhancement, peace building, mediation and conflict transformation, it was UML which stood firm in favour of national integration like an oak tree in a blizzard.
With the victory of the nationalist and socialist forces in the election, the conspiracy of these forces to push Nepal into a quagmire of a never ending transition has been foiled. But many critical issues still remain un-addressed. The most outstanding issues that have driven the people to desperation are corruption, unemployment, dwindling industrial base, shrinking agricultural production, haphazard urbanisation, decline in the quality of education and perennial shortfall of energy supply. The government of the left alliance needs to take prompt and sweeping measure to bring about reforms in these sectors.
The left government is inheriting a country which has been devastated by 2015 earthquake and is crippled by corruption and mismanagement. Starting reform in this country is like restoring order in a bedlam. But instead of throwing hands up in despair, the left government must start reform on a piecemeal basis with properly prioritising areas of intervention. The new left government must start its reform in education with an objective of turning Nepal into an education hub as the paramount left leader KP Oli has repeatedly spoken about during electioneering. The left coalition government should allocate adequate budget in education. Teaching and learning should be linked with research and the findings of the studies should be used to enrich the process of policy formulation at various levels.
Good governance has been a perennial issue in Nepal. The left government is expected to conduct public affairs and manage resources in a transparent and accountable way. Corruption in infrastructure building should be dealt with as treason and harshest measures implemented to curb it. The past Nepali Congress government destroyed Nepal’s industrial infrastructures in the name of liberalising Nepali economy. It has not only adversely affected the domestic employment market but has also increased dependence. The national economy is being propped up by remittance but it is not a permanent solution. The left government must swiftly set up manufacturing industries with a view to expand export trade and generate employment.
Agriculture has been in a state of rapid decline despite its being touted as the backbone of national economy. The left government should take prompt steps to design and implement a comprehensive agricultural modernisation and mechanisation plans to restore its role as a vibrant component of national economy. The left government should initiate systematising the capital city and end the present day chaos and pollution. For this, entire attention should be focussed to early completion of Melamchi Drinking Water Project, the clumsy implementation of which is enveloping the capital city in a blanket of dust.
The newly elected government should go for a visible infrastructure development, without which it will be difficult for it to win the trust of the people. It should aim at generating at least 5,000 megawatts of hydroelectricity within five years. The construction of the fast track linking Kathmandu with Nijgadh should be taken forward on a war footing. Similarly, the road linking Kathmandu with Rasuwagadi should be declared a national pride project and complete it within set deadline. Similarly, the construction of regional international airports that are underway in Pokhara and Bhairahawa should be completed within their set deadlines. If the left government is able to accomplish the above mentioned projects, the dream of stability and prosperity that has caught the imagination of this generation can be translated into an achievable objective of national regeneration.