Left Government: One Year On
Even after the comfortable victory in the parliamentary election (2/3 majority) and ‘near sweeping’ success in the local election, the Left government is not experiencing a cozy situation for governance at all levels of the federal and the structure below. This situation has created unexpected hurdles of all sorts in the governance planning and process. For KP Sharma Oli, the road is not all roses, there are spikes piercing here and there.
Speaking on numerous events in the last few weeks and days, the PM has remained on guard about his cabinet colleagues, the MPs and the party card holders in matters they take up to defend the government. He is also vigilant on those who often seem to cross the party’s discipline line and stand on the other side of the policy. But the campaign to defend the government’s achievement of the past year continues.
The government is facing tough comments, criticisms and ratings on its overall performances. Just the other day, NC’s spokesperson Bishwa Prakash Sharma was speaking with Image Channel’s Jagadish Kharel. When Kharel asked his comments on the PM’s views on the ‘ground base’ of development, Sharma was tough, saying – ‘What matters is not the name spelling base, but what the base is made of. If it is made of sand, where will the structure stand and how long?
In any case, NC, like a qualified opposition, will not accept the claim that there has been a base made in one year. NC often appears blindfolded – seeing only major, tall and distinct achievements. This is not unnatural at a time when NC is experiencing the outcome of its home-made in-party feud, power concentration in the place of power-sharing and series of problems inside the party. If one believes in NC chairman (there is no reason to not believe), there is a clandestine and even open effort to ‘establish’ a family rule in the party in the name of the previous generation. The recent confrontation of two factions of Congress students right in front of the party chief and leaders at the party office premise is one example of things not being smooth with NC.
On the other hand, it is but natural that the ruling party campaigns for the defense of the scores the government has its claim on. The past year was a year of continuous effort to have all seven provinces settled in physical and political settings. They are now busy doing their regular businesses from their headquarters. The government recently finalised the transfer of civil servants from the federal roster.
One major achievement of the past year was at the legal front. Necessary laws for the governance at the provincial and local levels are either enacted or pushed to the pipeline to be completed in the near future. This makes the road clear for the provincial and local governments to function effectively. Commentators say one year is not a very long time considering the unclear atmosphere that prevailed after the election about the governance system, people’s expectations, opposition at all levels of political and administrative arena, difficult times with the civil servants and a year-long homework for party unity. Yet people believe things are now settling and fluidity may come to an end.
People have always wanted a stable and quality school education. Too liberal policy towards private and commercial education has confused the parents who have no means to go for private system as public schools have turned into active political playgrounds. Therefore, recently the government has put strong control over the teachers’ membership in political party. If this happens, students will see daily routine followed and teachers doing their duty sincerely.
The PM recently declared – There will be reliable public schools and private sector will finally ‘pack up and leave.’ This cannot happen the way he made the forecast. In a democracy, healthy competition always has rooms to function for the strengthening of democracy. What people want is quality education at all levels. In fact, not the private but the public schools have now packed up and closed due to the lack of quality.
In the health sector, Prof Govind KC made history but his demands to improve health for the common people through regulated private sector remain unfulfilled. There is always gap in need, production and supply system. The government has decided to have more health centers at the village level. This is a welcome decision if it is implemented.
The transport sector has always been controversial. Too much focus is given to open up new tracks and bulldozers are felling trees and digging grounds all over. This is upsetting man-nature balance in the countryside. Also, this has been one major source of corruption at the local level. Image FM correspondents from Gulmi and Palpa report newly elected local officials are spending the tax money for their joy ride in expensive two- and four-wheelers. This trend is now all over the country. In the cities, privately managed syndicate system is failing the government effort to demolish their deeply rooted chain.
Finally, a powerful Left has led the nation for one year and is set for four to come. Nepalese are not only resilient but highly tolerant. The parties know this, the leaders cash on this and the country suffers due to this attitude. How long can the Nepalis wait before the two Lefts are united, and NC’s intra-party feud is settled?
(Former Dean of Humanities & Social Sciences of TU, and Fulbright scholar from University of California, Khatry writes on cultural issues)