Nepali Congress president Sher Bahadur Deuba is back in the saddle as the executive head of country. President Bidya Devi Bhandari appointed him as the 43rd Prime Minister of Nepal on Tuesday as per Article 76 (5) of the constitution. It is the fifth time Deuba, 75, has become the PM, thanks to the twist of political events that favoured the NC leader who had started his political career as the founding member of Nepal Student Union in 1970. On Monday, the Supreme Court issued a mandamus order to the Office of the President to appoint him as the new PM. In its historic verdict, the apex court reinstated the House of Representatives (HoR) which former PM KP Sharma Oli had dissolved amidst the escalating political crisis on May 22. Deuba has entered Singha Durbar three years and five months after he had passed the mantle of premiership to Oli.
The restoration of parliament and formation of new government has indeed brought the derailed constitutional process back on track but the ruling leadership should now prove its mettle in converting the current challenges into opportunities to the wider benefit of people and the nation. Upon assuming his office, PM Deuba said that his first priority was to provide vaccines to all citizens within this year. Bearing in mind the need to give respite to the people, the first meeting of new Cabinet decided to provide risk allowance to the health workers, security personnel and cleaners working in the frontline during the pandemic. According to the news report carried by this daily, it has also decided to make public the expenditure incurred by the previous government for the prevention, control and treatment of COVID-19 pandemic. It has given priority to maintain law and order, preventing, controlling and treating COVID-19 and gaining rapid recovery of the economy affected by COVID-19.
Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Gyanendra Bahadur Karki, also the government spokesman, said that a special package would be brought within a week to revive the economy. Now it is important to expedite development works, make service delivery effective, provide immediate relief to the victims of natural calamities and carry out preparations to hold the upcoming local polls. Hundreds of thousands of people have lost jobs after the country imposed extended lockdown and prohibitory order to curb the virus spread. The new government should unveil special scheme to address the livelihood problems of ordinary people without further delay.
Deuba leads a coalition government backed by the CPN-Maoist Centre, Janata Samajbadi Party and Nepal-Khanal faction of CPN-UML. The new political course, set off by the court verdict, comes full circle only when the new government becomes able to win the vote of confidence in the parliament within a month. As senior leader Nepal has opted to stay off the opposition alliance and get engaged in repairing the fractured unity within the party, it is a challenge for Deuba to steer his government till the remaining time of around one and a half year when the Lower House completes its full five-year term. First and foremost, Deuba faces political difficulty for ensuring stability, rule of law and post-pandemic economic recovery. Thus, consensus, collaboration and co-work among the political parties is essential to end chaos and instil people’s faith in the federal democratic republican system that got bruised by a series of political missteps by the earlier administration.