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Politics, Rule Of Law, And Economics

Issue April 2017

Politics, Rule Of Law, And Economics

Siddhi B Ranjitkar


The coalition government of Prime Minister Prachanda and President of Nepali Congress Sher Bahadur Deuba has sailed smoothly in the rough sea of the Nepalese politics, and got forced to follow the rule of law by the Supreme Court of Nepal, and succeeded to achieve the significant economic development during the nine months. They also set to hold the local government election. Thereafter, Deuba is to take over the rein from Prachanda. That was said to be the gentlemanly agreement they had reached in the past.


Prime Minister Prachanda has demonstrated his political skills in staying on in power even when his party has the third highest number of seats in the parliament, and in smoothly sailing in the chaotic political environment.


As soon as the Madheshi leaders were sure to pull out the support for the government, Prachanda used the Rastriya Prajatantra Party as a trump card in the political game hiring its chairman Kamal Thapa as the deputy prime minister. Thus, Prachanda maintained the majority for his government in the parliament when the Madheshi leaders walked away from him.


He has successfully kept the Madheshi and ethnic political leaders in cool rather in the hope of getting something from him. These leaders have been patiently waiting for Prachanda to give them something tangible. He has been holding numerous dialogues with the Madheshi leaders, and the main opposition leader KP Oli.


He has withdrew the first amendment bill registered at the parliament, and introduced a new one at the parliament secretariat on April 11, 2017 in an attempt to keep the Madheshi and ethic leaders happy on one hand and the opposition leaders particularly KP Oli of CPN-UML satisfied on other hand.


The irony is that the new amendment bill could not make the unhappy Madheshi and ethnic leaders happy and the opposition leaders to agree on it. It makes adequately clear that both Prachanda and Deuba have been simply trying to keep the political environment from getting heated up means the Madhehsi and ethnic leaders taking their cadres to streets.


Prachanda in coalition with Deuba has led the country to the local government election that would be held on May 14, 2017. This would be the first election after Nepal became the republic. This will laid the foundation of the republic. More than 36,000 officials would be elected for 744 local governments that include four metropolis, 13 sub-metropolis, 246 municipalities and 481 village councils that would have significant power to run the local administration.


The Election Commission has made preparation for holding the local elections on May 14, 2017. It has hired 75,000 temporary security personnel out of them more than 13,000 were women to provide the voters, and election officers with security, and to safeguard the ballot boxes. It also has started off printing ballot papers, and voters’ cards.


Prachanda and Deuba have said that they could hold the election in two phases postponing the election in the provinces where the Madheshi and ethnic leaders have determined to stop holding the election if the Madheshi and ethnic leaders were to participate in the election but the Election Commission said that it would hold the election in one go.


The Election Commission has forcibly removed the provision made for the Hinduism and the monarchy in the statute of the Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) stating they are against the Constitution. Chairman of RPP also holding the portfolio of deputy prime minister Kamal Thapa and his political colleague Pashupati Shumsher JB Rana and some other cadres protested against the Election Commission removing the Hinduism and monarchy from their party’s statute for a day.


One of the political achievements made by both Prachanda and Deuba has been setting the threshold of three percent votes to receive and at least one candidate to get elected directly for any political party to be a national. It could send the leaders of one-man political parties such as of Chitra Bahadur KC, CP Mainali and even Narayan Man Bijukchhe out of politics.


Concerning the foreign policy, Prachanda has successfully balanced between China and India. His government has been receiving power from India to mitigate the power shortage in Nepal. At the same time, his government has been going along with the Silk Road China has been propagating.


The state-run newspaper “gorkhapatra” has the news on April 10, 2017 stating Nepal is preparing to construct a four-kilometer long tunnel from Tokha in Kathmandu to Thansimha in Nuwakot to connect the northern border with China at short time and distance. It also stated that the government has submitted the proposal for the loan of NPR 27 billion for the tunnel to the Asian Infrastructures Development Bank. Once, this tunnel is done; Kerung: a town bordering with China would be within two-hour drive from Kathmandu.


China was irritated when Deuba allegedly attended the conference in Goa, India in which members of the government of Tibet in exile also were present. Deuba and his party colleagues vehemently denied Deuba attending the conference but the picture of Deuba sitting in the row in which the prime minister of the Tibetan government in exile was sitting was made public. However, some of the members of the Deuba’s party stated the picture was the product of the Photoshop not the real one. I don’t know the truth.


The problem of protocol of the deputy prime minister surfaced after Chairman of RPP Kamal Thapa joined the coalition government as a deputy prime minister. Bimalendra Nidhi (NC) wanted to keep his second position after the prime minister but Thapa also claimed the same position. Prachanda had difficulty in keeping both the deputy prime ministers happy. He could not hold the cabinet meeting for a month because of this dispute over the second position in the cabinet.


Nidhi has reached the stage of quitting the cabinet once he is relegated to the third position in the cabinet. However, Deuba has succeed to keep him in the cabinet for the time, as the Nidhi’s departure from the cabinet would send the negative message to the people at the time of the local election. Nidhi skipped the cabinet meeting held on Monday, April 10, 2017 probably as a protest.


Concerning the rule of law, Prachanda has shown his weakness, too. Allegedly under the pressure of Deuba, Prachanda appointed Jaya Bahadur Chand to the position of the IGP (Inspector General of Police). DIG Nava Raj Silwal went to the Supreme Court seeking justice for him. He claimed that he was to be appointed to the position of IGP but the government appointed Jaya Bahadur Chand that held the fourth position among the four candidates claiming the job.


The Supreme Court bench found that the government not following the rules appointed Jaya Bahadur Chand, and annulled the appointment and asked the government to follow the rules.


The history of the Nepali Congress government has been tainted with not following the rules. Immediately after the reinstatement of democracy in 1990 and after the general elections in 1991, the Nepali Congress government won the majority in the parliament. Girija Prasad Koirala ran the administration autocratically shoving the rules and regulations in the official folders causing chaos in the civil administration. Then, the judiciary was not as of today.


Deuba attempted to simply follow the previous habit of overriding the rules and regulations and appointed the candidate of his choice to the IGP but the Supreme Court wanted the top law enforcement officials to follow the rules and regulations.


The question of promoting one of the four candidates to the IGP position came back to the cabinet after the Supreme Court annulled the appointment of Jaya Bahadur Chand to the IGP. The ‘gorkhapatra” on April 11, 2017 published the news stating the cabinet meeting held on the evening of April 10, 2017 decided to promote DIG Prakash Aryal based on the evaluation of the work performances.


The news stated that Aryal has secured 154.2 marks whereas Nava Raj Silwal has 152.4 in their job performance evaluation. So, Prakash Aryal got promoted to the job of IGP on the night of April 10, and the government appointed Aryal on the same night and installed him as the IGP probably anticipating Silwal would go to the Supreme Court seeking justice again. In fact, Nava Raj did so.


The previous government of Prime Minister Sushil Koirala appointing Dr Govinda Raj Pokharel to the CEO of National Reconstruction Authority had invited controversy. Then, the next government of KP Oli appointed Sushil Gyawali to the CEO of National Reconstruction Authority also caused controversy. The third government of Prime Minister Prachanda fired Sushil Gyawali and appointed Dr Govinda Raj Pokharel to the CEO of National Reconstruction Authority in January 2017. Obviously, the Prachanda government followed the rules and regulations in firing Gyawali because nothing came out of the Supreme Court when Gyawali went to the court.


The Deuba and Prachanda coalition government has performed well in the economic development. The GDP growth has been more than eight times the previous government achieved in the immediate past fiscal year. Probably, this achievement has been possible due to the smooth supply of power. The Asian Development Bank has forecast the GDP growth in Nepal: lowest 5 and highest 6.2 percent for the current fiscal year.


One of the marvelous achievements of the current coalition government has been to put an end to the unscrupulous power outage the previous government had adopted. The credit goes to the Energy Minister Janardam Sharma (Maoist-center), and his powerful CEO of Nepal Electricity Authority Kulman Ghishing. They together managed the power locally generated and imported from India to make the power supply uninterrupted.


Another smart Minister for Industry Nabindra Raj Joshi (NC) has put some of the long-closed-State-owned factories to operation with the financial support of the savings of the Nepal Army and Police. He also successfully held a conference on Foreign Investment in Nepal, and secured the commitment of foreign investors investing US$ 14 billions. Then, he has been engaged in making this commitment to the reality.


The next energetic minister has been the Minister for Health Gagan Kumar Thapa (NC). He has stretched his capacity to the full and made a tremendous contribution to making the healthcare services to the people-oriented, and make it easy for the common folks to receive. He has made the government pay for the treatment of major diseases such as cancer, kidney problems and others.


Less publicized activities of Minister for Transport Ramesh Lekhak (NC) have been significant. He has successfully revoked the contract given to the Indian company for constructing the Kathmandu-Hetauda fast-track highway, and made the Nepal Army do it. He has pushed the construction of roads linking the northern border with China. The construction of the regional airport in Pokhara has been going on.


The Prachanda government has pushed the management of the Melamchi Drinking Water Project to complete the project as scheduled. The major portion of the project is the construction of 27 km of the tunnel to bring the water from the Melamchi River to Sudarijall in Kathmandu. Only four kilometer is left to complete. Eighty percent of the laying of large pipes for supplying water in the Kathmandu Valley has been completed.


Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) has completed the process for purchasing two wide-body airplanes. Speaking to the anchor of the Radio Nepal morning program called ‘antar-sambad’ on April 12, 2017, the CEO of the NAC Sugat Ratna Kansakar said that the two wide-body planes would help the tourism industry to flourish; these brand-new planes would be coming to Nepal in three months or so; these planes could fly for 10 hours means they could reach London nonstop from Kathmandu.


After all these eventful and successful governance, Prachanda was supposed to hand out the power to Deuba after the local government election. At least this is what the Nepalese media have been telling the public. Whether Deuba would be able to keep the political and moral spirit of Prachanda remains to be seen.


April 12, 2017

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