Government Under Siege
Dr. Narad Bharadwaj
After just over five months at the helm of the state, the ruling party appears to have come under siege from the opposition hell-bent to obstruct the majority elected government from delivering what it had promised to its electorate during the election. The conflict between the ruling and the opposition parties has escalated on the issue of National Medical Education Bill which awaits tabling and discussion at the parliamentary session. Looking at the unfolding events, it seems that the left government led by Prime Minister KP Oli is in for a rough ride.
Any one aware of the context in which the present government came to power knows that KP Oli had taken over the rein of the state when the country was in disarray. The national coffer was almost empty, Nepal’s relation with India was still strained and the alliance of the Communist Party of Nepal with the CPN (MC) was still shaky. As soon as, KP Oli came to power, he swiftly took certain urgent measures to assess the actual economic situation of the country by issuing a white paper, initiating some credible measures to restore fiscal disciplines and instilling confidence among the people.
In addition to this, the left government took measured steps to break the vicious cycle of syndicalism that had taken the transport and construction sectors under its stranglehold. It presented an annual budget and successfully re-allocated budget to federal provinces. Prime Minister KP Oli also took initiatives to expedite the national pride projects like the early completion of the Melamchi Drinking Water Project, Fast Track to Nijgadh and the widening and upgrading of the highway linking Kathamandu with the Rasuwagadi.
In addition to that, the Oli led left government also undertook agreements with both the neighbouring countries regarding the construction of Trans Himalayan and trans-border connectivity, especially the railways. In a short span of time, KP Oli-led government has unveiled development plans in a number of areas of public concern such as industrialisation, agricultural modernisation, reform in education and expansion of health service.
KP Oli government has also taken visible measures to curb corruption and irregularities eating into the vitals of state organisms for decades. For the first time in history, Nepal’ federalised structure has been made operational under the KP Oli government and the local government bodies have been empowered to formulate their policies, laws and development priorities. A new wave of structural adjustment is taking place in the country which is indispensable for unleashing a infrastructural development of the country. KP Oli government must be given credit for all these achievements.
In spite of the above mentioned achievements, all is not well in the field of governance. There are murmuring dissatisfactions among the civil servants for failing to get a hike in their salary and the elderly people are unhappy for an unmet promise of their old age allowance raised. Similarly, the unemployed youths are also desperate about the absence of substantial employment generating schemes in the government budget.
However, the above situations are the problem of a transitional democracy which is in power only for five months. This timeline is definitely not enough for the evaluation of a government’s performance and give no cause for the opposition to demonise the government which has come to power with an unprecedented mandate and popular approval.
Now the opposition parties have unleashed an attack on the government from all sides. They are debasing the people’s mandate by saying that the present government had come to power on the basis of demagoguery and populism. Opposition intellectuals are accusing the ruling party of beguiling the people through hate campaign and xenophobia.
They are stoking minor issues to trigger public rage against the government and are utilizing the hunger strike of a maverick doctor as a weapon to amputate the legs and limb of a government. The opposition is trying to elevate the hunger strike of Dr. Govinda KC to national political discourse. The KP Oli government is being excoriated for his failure to address his demands as if the fulfilment of Dr. KC’s whims forms the pivot on which the entire operation of state mechanism hinges.
Dr. KC’s propositions on the reform of medical education may be useful for strengthening the quality of medical education in Nepal but he cannot be permitted to override the wisdom of the majority of the people’s representatives. He cannot be permitted to equate the policy on medical education with his whims. If there are adequate infrastructures needed to maintain the quality requirements for medical education, if there is adequate demand for more medical colleges, there should be no restriction on opening and operationalisation of new medical colleges in any part of the country.
The present government can prevent the exercise of democratic right of the people to open new medical institutes or any other enterprises only by being authoritarian. How can the opposition which leaves no chance to point a finger at democratic deficit of the incumbent leftist government incite it to take authoritarian decision?
Everyone knows that the campaign of slander against the new elected government has no objective basis. The past evolutionary history of the present party in power shows that there are no political forces in the country which have made such great strides in imbuing themselves with the democratic liberal values as the CPN has done in the past two decades.
In Nepal’s context the left democratic forces have outshone even the so called liberal democratic party, the Nepali Congress, in the exercise of democratic value and principles. If we peruse the past history we will not fail to note that it was the Nepali Congress which first inducted the remnants of autocratic monarchy in a democratic coalition letting them to play inside democratic governance as a divisive catalytic agents. It was they who first breached the principle of the prerogative of the prime minister to dissolve the unfavourable parliament by reversing the decision of former Prime Minister Manamohan Adhikari in 2052 B.S. It is they who have repeatedly maligned the principle of judicial independence by meddling in judicial affairs. It is they who have exercised undemocratic practices of appointing people in strategic position in open breach of election code of conduct.
KP Oli government is beset with crisis which is not its own making. It is the past legacy which it has inherited from the predecessor government. So far, there are no indications that the Oli government has committed serious digression from the path of reform and rectification of the disjointments that have developed in the body politic for quite some time.
Though what is happening under KP Oli government is not stellar, it is not disconcerting either. It is not moving fast enough to meet the aspirations of the people and is seen lacking in innovation and ability to think out of the box. But it has a five years mandate with enough room for course correction. Irrespective of weaknesses, it is still the best government Nepal has had in its modern history. We should lend our hands to help it live up to the people’s aspirations. If we dismantle it, the cherished dream of the Nepali people for prosperity, peace and stability will lie in ruins forever.