Agenda For New Government
Nepalese politics seems to have headed to confusion and uncertainty. The Left Alliance constituents – CPN-UML and Maoist Unity Centre – are at loggerheads over the sharing of power as both the former prime ministers and the party bosses- KP Sharma Oli and Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda - have reportedly staked their claim to the executive posts in government and party. Former prime minister and UML chair Oli and some of the UML leaders are in favor of keeping both the government and party leadership under their tutelage whereas the Maoist Centre leaders have expressed their displeasure over it. In case the UML keeps its rigid posturing undiluted and unaltered to deny the post of the executive chief either of the government or the party, there are possibilities of new political alignment that would lead to the formation of the non-UML coalition government in which Nepali Congress and Madhes-based parties might partner.
However, it looks like that the power sharing stalemate that had raised doubt and suspicion on the possibility of the stability in government would be resolved and the Left Alliance would form the government. The UML camp that was over confident and would have sensed the possibility of alternative permutation to check its enthronement has agreed to find formula for power sharing. There are now grounds for optimism that the Left Alliance would form the new government as committed to create political ambience for stability and permanence. However, it all depends on Oli and Prachanda as to how they manage and moderate their egos and ambitions. They need to take into consideration the fact that there is no best alternative to negotiated settlement to provide stable and effective government to the nation. The voters had given commanding majority nearing almost two-thirds to the Alliance, expecting that it would bring an end to the days characterised by frequent changes of the government resulting into destabilisation and dysfunctionality of bureaucracy and state institutions. If they break apart and indulge into zero sum game of power politics, it would be great betrayal of popular verdict. Not only this Left Alliance should bring Nepali Congress and other parties into confidence and explore the avenues of working together for the broader interest of the people and nation.
The agreement on the ordinance related with election to the Upper House of the federal parliament promulgated by the President the other day breaks the political deadlock with the Nepali Congress paving the way for resignation of the Deuba-led government and installation of the new political dispensation steered by the Left Alliance. In fact, the Leftists have the tendency to offer inflated promises to the people and they disappoint more when they fail to keep their pledges to the people. Moreover, there are some areas which the Left Alliance should handle warily lest the good intent with which they operate would be foiled by the different interest groups. Needless to say, Nepalese bureaucracy is politically partial and unionised. The political parties have their own sister wings in the bureaucracy and civil servants are in a way reduced into the party functionaries working at beck and call of their parent organisations. It is reported that the hold of the UML is very much stronger in the bureaucracy and pro-left bureaucrats irrespective of their levels and grades would prevail and influence the decision making process of the government.
Going by the previous precedents, there are abundant cases and examples to substantiate that the succeeding governments took several decisions on the retention, transfer and promotion of the civil servants with partial consideration at the diktat of the civil servant unions. There have been allegations that the ministers used to operate in complicity with the union leaders as intermediaries to solicit bribe for transfer and posting of the paying civil servants in the lucrative assignments. The customs, immigration, foreign employment division, revenue department are some of the lucrative and seductive assignments where civil servants would prefer to get transferred. The political meddling in bureaucracy has been a festering malaise that has failed the government to perform and deliver to meet the soaring aspirations of the people.
There is, therefore, a need to make a serious reflection on the rationale of the civil servant associations that have been politicised on partisan basis, undermining the Weberian principles of impersonality, legal-rationality and impartiality generally expected of the bureaucratic organisation. The resistance of the civil servant organisation to cooperate with adjustment and transfer plan to make up for the need of the human resources in the sub-national government indicates that the bureaucratic pathology will contaminate the whole fabric of the civil administration in all layers of the government. The government will not be able to enforce the rules and regulations and deliver according to the expectations of the people.
The new government is expected to set a healthy precedent by giving preference on recruitment and appointment to independent professionals and persons of integrity in public and constitutionally created bodies and institutions. The very basis and rationale of the public institutions has been devalued and declined due to political meddling in the recruitment of the professionals in the public institutions. Independent and competent professionals and experts are not given priority in the selection and appointment in the key positions of the public institutions as those who are related with political leaders and act as their buffoons are given preference. Unless this cronyism and nepotism is abandoned in favour of meritocracy, public institutions in Nepal will not be able to function. It is in this area that the new government should give proper attention.