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Sher Bahadur Deuba Became A Prime Minister

Issue June 2017

Sher Bahadur Deuba Became A Prime Minister

Siddhi B Ranjitkar


Deuba became the prime minister fourth time but the first time of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal. He has garnered the unprecedented number of votes in the parliament. He has seven months and 13 days to go before the end of his term following the constitution. During this period, he has to hold the second-phase local elections, then provincial and federal elections, and to pass a bill on an amendment to the constitution to meet the demands of the ethnic and Madheshi Nepalese. It might be a short time for him to do all these things but he needed to complete them.


On June 7, 2017, Deuba took the oath of office from the president at the presidential residence in presence of Vice-president, outgoing prime minister, acting chief justice, speaker and other former ministers, and opposition leaders and members of the diplomatic missions in Nepal.


Thereafter, three deputy prime ministers Such as Bijayakumar Gacchedar, Krishna Bahadur Mahara, and Gopalman Shrestha took the oath of office from the president: Gacchedar for the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs and Local development, Mahara for the foreign affairs, and Shrestha for the education. Shrestha is the NC leader, Mahara the Maoist-center, and Gacchedar the Madheshi People’s Right Forum-Democratic.


Four ministers such as NC leader Gyanendra Bahadur Karki took the oath of office from the president for the finance, Maoist-Center leader janardan Sharma for home, NC leader Farmullah Mansoor for labor and employment, and Maoist-Center leader Prabhu Shah for minister without portfolio.


In the first round of the cabinet formation, Deuba made the cabinet of only eight members including him but the ambitious politicians are lining up for different portfolios. It is hard to tell now how many ministers, deputy ministers and assistant ministers would take the oath of office in the immediate future. Deuba needed to meet the expectation of so many lawmakers that had voted for him in the parliament on June 6, 2017.


Former prime ministers, ministers, politicians including the opposition, members of the diplomatic missions lined up to congratulate Deuba on his ascend the throne.


Immediately after the oath-taking ceremony, Deuba went to the Martyrs’ park at Lazimpat in Kathmandu, and paid tribute to the martyrs that had shed the blood for making possible the commoner such as Deuba to be the prime minister.


Deuba also went to the NC office at Sanepa in Kathmandu, and paid tribute to the past NC leaders such as BP Koirala, Ganeshman Singh, Suvarna Shumsher, Krishna Prasad Bhattarai, Girija Prasad Koirala and Sushil Koirala offering garlands to their portraits.


Then, Deuba went to the office of prime minister and signed off the documents such as 1) A Policy on Good Conduct on the Public Sector, and 2) Setting Up Inter-provincial Secretariat. These are the immediate decisions, the new prime minister has made on the very day of oath-taking ceremony. This might be a new tradition Deuba has set in Nepal.


Talking to the reporters, newly elected Prime Minister Deuba said that his main tasks ahead are holding the second-phase local elections peacefully, impartially and without any irregularity on June 28, 2017, and thereafter the provincial and federal elections by January 21, 2018. He also said that he would follow the balanced foreign policy on the immediate neighbors.


In the evening of the oath-taking ceremony day, Deuba went to the residence of the outgoing Prime Minister Prachanda, and discussed the functioning of the new government, and agreed on building a consensus of all parties on the controversial issues, and run the State affairs in collaboration with all the political parties involved, the press secretary of Prachanda stated.


Assuming the office of the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs and Local Development, Deputy Prime Minister Bijayakumar Gacchedar said that the first-phase local election has been the first step of enforcing the constitution, and the second-phase local elections would be the second, and then the provincial and federal elections would be the completion of enforcing the constitution, and all these elections would be held on time as prescribed for in the constitution.


Talking to the officials of the Nepal Police, Armed Police Force-Nepal, and National Investigation Department at his office on June 7, 2017, newly appointed Home Minister Janardan Sharma said that he wanted the sincerity of all officials involved in delivering services to the common folks without any discrimination; and he also wanted to see the officials following the strict discipline; and he categorically objected any official talking to the media on camera or otherwise.


Both China and India congratulated Deuba immediately after the parliament elected him with the overwhelmingly votes on June 6, 2017.


Chinese ambassador to Nepal went to the residence of Deuba at Buddhanilkantha in the evening of the day Deuba got elected, and she congratulated Deuba on getting elected to the office of prime minister, and wished him for a success, and expressed her confidence in strengthening the diplomatic relations between the two neighbors during his term of office.


Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a call to the newly elected Prime Minister Deuba in the evening after Deuba was elected, and congratulated Deuba on getting elected to the office of prime minister, and wished Deuba for making Nepal prosperous and peaceful, and hoped that the relations between the two countries would be further strengthened.


Chinese Foreign Minister congratulated Krishna Bahadur Mahara on his appointment to the foreign minister a few days later.


On June 6, 2017, 388 lawmakers voted for Deuba, and 170 voted against in the parliament of 593 lawmakers; 35 lawmakers did not show up; among them must be 11 lawmakers belonging to the CPN-UML as it has 181 lawmakers in the parliament but only 170 voted against Deuba; some other political parties abstained from voting. So, Deuba received 69.53 of the votes of the total 558 lawmakers present at the parliament at the time of voting. Deuba was very close to making the two-thirds majority of the 593 parliamentarians. It proves that Deuba has a chance of getting the bill on an amendment to the constitution passed by the parliament with the two-thirds majority.


On June 6, 2017, the parliament was set to elect a new prime minister. Deuba’s nomination was the only one but the parliament had to elect him with the majority votes following the provision in the constitution.


Before the election, Speaker of the parliament allowed to speak the opposition leader KP Oli first, Deuba, and Prachanda.


Oli spent a lot of time on how the ballots were torn off while counting ballots of ward 19 of the Bhatapur Metropolitan City; how the police arrested the perpetrators of tearing off the ballots, and the District Court released them; how the Election Commission set up a commission on ascertaining the facts about the tearing off ballots; and how the issue has reached the Supreme Court.


A person such as KP Oli having a leader of the national stature has spent so much of time on the local issue that would be resolved following the rules and regulations and the Election law and so on. Oli has blown up the issue tremendously. His CPN-UML party has decided not to accept the decision of the Election Commission on holding the re-election at ward 19.


Then, Oli went on asking why Prime Minister Prachanda resigned just a few days before the government submitting the budget making the government reduced to the status of acting only. Oli said that Prachanda could have waited a few days before quitting the office so that the budget would be of the full-fledged government.


Oli took up the issue of a motion to impeach the Chief Justice Sushila Karki. Oli said that retired Chief Justice Karki went to the Ministry of Finance to make the pension document but the ministry officials told her that the impeachment motion was at the parliament so they could not make a document causing tremendous insult to the retiring Chief Justice. Oli also asked how the ministry people knew that the motion to impeach the chief justice was still at the parliament.


Oli tried to say that his party CPN-UML was not against the Madhesh and Terai, as his party had decided to widen the east-west highway to a four-lane; to expedite the construction of the postal roads and so on. He went on saying how the Madheshi citizens had received slightly more than 50 awards out of more than 500 awards given.


Oli spoke about the police firing at Saptari when his party CPN-UML was in the east-west political awareness campaign. He said that his party was supposed to hold a mass rally at the Stadium but shifted to the industrial zone. The protestors went back home; his party also completed the mass rally and they were seven kilometers away when the police fired at the people.


Finally, he touched the issue of the nationality, and said that his party was the only party that was nationalistic and safeguarded the nation. He hinted at other political parties being not nationalistic.


Oli being a leader of the national stature wasted one-and-a-half hour at the parliament speaking about the non-national issues. He claimed that his party obviously he also was the nationalist but he did not touch any national issue during the long speech he delivered to the parliament.


Then, the Speaker invited Deuba to speak.


Deuba spoke only for about ten minutes, and became very specific and successfully hit hard all the questions Oli raised during his speech.


Deuba said that the counting of the ballot papers was the business of the Election Commission not of the parliament; nobody needed to talk about it in the parliament.


Deuba said nobody needed to teach the lesson of the nationality, as the founding fathers of his party NC had made the motto of the three basic things such as nationality, democracy and socialism on which NC would never compromise.


Deuba also said that the Chief Justice would have a pension document if CPN-UML had not obstructed the parliament making lawmakers not able to withdraw the motion to impeach the Chief Justice.


Concerning the four-lane east-west highway, Deuba said that NC had proposed to make it a four-lane highway a long time ago.


Then, the Speaker invited the outgoing Prime Minister Prachanda.


Standing at the podium, Prachanda said that one had spoke for one-and-a-half hour another had hardly took ten minutes to speak; probably, he would be in between.


Prachanda spent most of his time on talking about the national issues, and about crafting the constitution, and then promulgating it.


Then, Prachanda said that he resigned following the gentlemanly understanding reached between the political leaders to break the past trend of the political leaders agreeing on something but not keeping it.


Prachanda talked about the economic growth reaching about 7.5 percent during his 10-month term of office, and about how Oli had said that Oli had done everything for Prachanda just to open up the tap. Prachanda said that he had laid the foundation stone for building the Kathmandu-Nizgad Fast-Track Highway; the CPN-UML had also done so, let the highway be built and the credit go to the CPN-UML.


Prachanda said that the tearing off ballots was not good; he immediately called the Election Commission and asked to do whatever needed following the law. Prachanda also said that one of the Maoist leader at midnight said that the results of the elections to a second Constituent Assembly did not come, as it should be so the Maoists needed to tear off the ballots and burned them down but Prachanda stopped them doing such things. The Maoist leader that had asked to burn down the ballots was not with the Maoist-Center anymore probably hinting at Dr Baburam Bhattarai.


Prachanda said that the police firing at Saptari was to protect Oli and other leaders of his party from the protestors against the campaign of the CPN-UML reaching Saptari.


Deuba has successfully taken the baton of the State administration from Prachanda, and must have been sure to perform better than any of his predecessors. He has the support of a large number of lawmakers. So, he should be able to outperform his colleagues. The opposition has reduced to 170 lawmakers mainly of the CPN-UML, as the voting in the parliament for electing a prime minister demonstrated.


June 9, 2017

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