New Government And Expectations
A new government has been formed under the leadership of CPN-UML leader KP Sharma Oli. The government should have been formed long ago but for the ‘tactics’ of ex-Premier Sher Bahadur Deuba under the pretext of one provision or the other in the constitution.
Anyway, KP Sharma Oli has been able to earn the credentials of being the first Prime Minister of the truly federal government. Now, the pace of making provincial governments is picking up momentum with rapidity, with some provinces even completing the formation of their respective cabinets.
The left alliance could form the government easily due to its overwhelming victory in the elections. The alliance won the elections on the plank of left unification and economic prosperity. People were, in a sense, overwhelmed by the left agendas and voted the left alliance into power, hoping that its constituents would coalesce into a single solid force and the country would get a stable government for the upcoming five years, which would result in economic prosperity. However, there was an inordinate delay in the unification process due to various issues like ideology, power sharing and organisational structure.
Now, the CPN-UML and the CPN-Maoist Centre has inked a seven-point pact that will set the stage for the party unification. As per the pact, the unified party will be called the Nepal Communist Party with Marxism-Leninism as its guiding principle. The ideology will, however, be reviewed by the first general convention of the unified party. This is a positive development in the on-going unification process and has laid to rest all misgivings about the party unification.
There are challenges galore before the newa government. These challenges should not, however, be taken as a legacy from the past governments. Rather, the new government should run with a clean slate, ignoring who created or have created such challenges.
As soon as the government was installed, it decided to revoke the controversial decisions made by the Deuba-led government during its dying hours. Distribution of money to the cadres and workers of the previous government by making a drain on the state coffers was one of the seamy aspects of the previous government. Similarly, decisions like increasing elderly allowances and reducing the eligible age for such allowances will have a financial impact on the economy.
On the other hand, the Deuba-led government had also to collect brickbats over the haphazard appointment of its ‘men’ in various entities. Although the Deuba-led government deserve kudos for successfully holding the three-tier elections for the federal republican system to come into existence, its last-hour undesirable decisions will go down in history as a black spot. In the process of revoking the aforesaid decisions of the Deuba-led government, the new government has rescinded the recommendation for nomination of three members made by the erstwhile government to the National Assembly and recommended nomination of three members associated with the left alliance. The Nepali Congress has vehemently opposed this move.
Be that as it may, the new government should concentrate on development activities to meet the aspirations of the people living across the country. There are many irons in the fire. They range from basic needs like health, education, sanitation and transportation to big development projects. The Common Minimum Program formulated by the task force formed by the left alliance recommends provision of adequate electricity, creation of employment opportunities, adequate food supply, building of the East-West Infrastructure and the Karnali Hydel Project and relaxing of procurement and compensation rules to facilitate development works, among others.
Much water has flowed under the bridge since leaders talked about developing the country. Even Oli talked about supplying piped gas to households during the Indian blockade although experts suggested that it was not feasible. He even talked about running a Nepali shipping line in the Indian Ocean.
As Oli has become the Prime Minister for the second time, he should prove his tenure as an innings without resorting to chimerical gossip. There is talk of making smart cities, building underground railways and monorails and constructing railways. These are all positive aspects of development. But what is more important at this moment is building infrastructure for the fulfilment of basic requirements. ‘Talking big and achieving little’ is symptomatic of the leadership of the country. The new government should ensure that this syndrome will have no place in the development annals of the country.
On the other hand, improving foreign relations, especially with India and China, the two economic behemoths, also forms one of the priorities of the new government. India got its dander up when the constitution was promulgated by the country in 2015 and sided with the agitating Madhesi parties by imposing an implicit trade embargo on the country. The embargo and the Madhes agitation came to an end after six months and the relations between the country and India have since remained at a low-ebb. Now, India has shown its willingness to go into a rapprochement with the country. Only the other day, Indian Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj came to the country to put out feelers.
In fact, the country should maintain good relations with both India and China. The new government should see to it that fostering relations with one country at the cost of the other will not pay. Here, the question of equidistance in relations crops up. The country needs both neighbours. However, the country is too dependent on India and this dependence can be mitigated by making headway in the economy.
The new government should therefore focus on economic development and raising the economic conditions of the teeming poor. If the new government indulges in narcissistic activities a la its predecessors taking care of its leaders, cadres, henchmen and hangers-on as in the past, people cannot experience any change in the nascent federal system. So the new government should not work against people’s interests. What is crucial at this juncture is that the new government should measure up to people’s expectations by focusing more on work and less on talk.