An Uphill Task Ahead Of Oli : Kushal Pokharel

Nepal recently got its 38th prime minister in the form of K.P. Sharma Oli. Elected by a sweeping majority, Oli has fulfilled his long cherished dream of being the executive head of this country. Popularly known as ‘a man of proverbs and idioms’, Oli has created an image of a political leader who can take rigid stances on national issues. But he is also known as a leader of only a certain faction of his party.

Critics often say that one of the main reasons for his hurry in promulgating the new constitution was to be on the hot seat sooner than later. He is also accused of compromising everything primarily to be at the helm of power. Moreover, his uncompromising posture in the delineation of state boundaries has created great havoc.

Having said that, there are others who have lauded his leadership in bringing the UCPN- Maoist on the course of constitution writing by taking decisions according to the need of the time and situation.

Although the swearing-in ceremony of Oli was greeted with much fanfare, there is an uphill task ahead of the new premier in addressing the multiple crises of the nation. Ranging from the fuel crisis to the Terai-Madhes agitation, he has plenty to deal with. More importantly, management of relations with India has become problematic with the state of Nepal-India relations hitting rock bottom.

Major Challenges

Firstly, his government ought to be pro-active in lessening the tensions of the people so that they ca live a normal life. With two of our major festivals just round the corner, people are facing an acute shortage of LPG and petrol as well as other essential supplies. It has become very difficult for people to go home and celebrate Dashain and Tihar with their families in the absence of smooth transportation. Since the problem has been aggravated by India’s blockade, it is urgent that diplomatic negotiations be reached at the level of heads of two governments to ease the situation. The sooner our diplomacy gets into business, the easier it will be for ensuring the smooth supply of essential goods.  

Secondly, addressing the genuine demands of the Terai-Madhes parties who have been hitting the streets for the last two months requires a pragmatic leadership approach to sit for meaningful dialogue. Oli should convince the agitating parties that he is willing to end the deadlock. This is particularly significant in the light of the growing hatred towards Oli and his party in Madhes.

Although the immediate past government of Sushila Koirala has already decided to amend the constitution to include two of their demands, i.e. determining the election areas based on population and mentioning both the ‘inclusion and proportional’ representation in the main law of the land, the issue of delineating the provinces is still unsettled. The agitating parties are demanding two autonomous provinces in Madhes, to which the government hasn’t consented.

Thirdly, expediting the reconstruction work of the nation which was ravaged by the April 12 earthquake this year also lies on the shoulders of the new government. As of today, the reconstruction bill is still languishing in the corners of the parliament. In the absence of a robust act, the pace of rebuilding the damaged socio-economic infrastructure has remained sluggish.       

Despite the fact that the new government is fraught with challenges, there is a historic opportunity ahead of Oli and his team to rise to the occasion. As the saying goes, a true leader often delivers during critical time, if the newly elected prime minister can use his firmness for mass welfare, he will be highly revered. Going by his past record of successfully running the Ministries of Home and Foreign Affairs, it will be unwise to belittle him. Thus, utilising the leadership traits for accelerating the socio-economic development of the nation, Oli can wipe out his shortcomings and some mischevious behaviours of the past.

General expectations

For the common people, the concerns are always the same irrespective of who becomes the prime minister. When are we getting rid of the loadshedding? Are our roads going to be smooth? Will we get enough drinking water? What about cooking essentials? How will the inflation be controlled? Will there be better employment opportunities for the deserving people? Can we see a corruption-free society?

These are of more prominence than the constitution itself because it can’t simply resolve the day-to-day problem. Thus, it is crucial that the leadership realise that the general people are having a tough time managing the basic needs even in Kathmandu, forget about the other parts of Nepal. In fact, people are looking for a leader who can empathize with their sufferings and make them feel comfortable. The search for a leader of high integrity and willingness to feel the pulse of his countrymen and act accordingly has been relentless over the last few decades in Nepal.    

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