Though the newly-formed seven-party coalition government led by Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ has a bumpy road ahead, it seems to be determined to deal with numerous challenges and problems facing the nation and the people. The government has to work as per the aspirations of the people as the latter have pinned much hope on it. However, the Prime Minister needs to move ahead by taking the coalition partners into confidence. After having been appointed the PM with the backing of 169 members of the 275-member House of Representatives (HoR), Prachanda has formed an initial eight-member cabinet that includes three deputy prime ministers and four ministers. Since there are many ministerial hopefuls from the ruling alliance, the PM needs to take a careful move to give a full shape to the cabinet. In view of such a tricky situation, he is likely to expand the cabinet only after taking a vote of confidence from the parliament.
As this is Prachanda’s third stint as the head of the government, he has to prove his mettle this time around. He had had an opportunity to take up responsibilities as the PM in 2008 and 2016. However, he had been in office briefly in both the terms. As per the freshly struck power-sharing deal among the coalition partners, Prachanda will continue leading the government for the next two and a half years. Then, he will pave the way for CPN-UML chairman KP Sharma Oli to head the government for the remaining period.
During the canvassing for elections to the federal and provincial legislatures held on November 20 last year, Prachanda had vowed to deliver on the promises made to the people. Even after being appointed the PM, he often reiterates his pledge to contribute to establishing good governance and carrying out development activities in order to lead the nation on the path of prosperity.
“I am fully committed to serving the nation and the people during this tenure. Soon after its formation, the new government has initiated the process of reviving the national economy and controlling corruption,” said the PM while speaking at the diamond jubilee celebration of Narayani Namuna Secondary School located in Chitwan on Saturday (December 31).
Despite ideological differences, the coalition partners—CPN-UML, CPN-Maoist Centre, Rastriya Swatantra Party (RSP), Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP), Janata Samajbadi Party (JSP), Janamat Party and Nagarik Unmukti Party, and three independent lawmakers—have joined hands to run the federal as well as provincial governments.
The first meeting of the new cabinet has decided to work on controlling the revenue leakage, accelerating the nation’s economic activities and providing the people with a feeling of change and security. Another notable decision is that the government will deliver its services in a more efficient manner. It has promised to issue driving licenses, citizenship certificates, e-passports and national identity cards in a hassle-free way.
Meanwhile, the ruling alliance is planning to unveil its common minimum programme (CMP) soon. A meeting of the governing alliance has entrusted the responsibility of drafting the CMP to a panel headed by Finance Minister Bishnu Prasad Poudel. The alliance has also constituted a high-level mechanism under the leadership of CPM-UML chairman Oli to ensure coordination and cooperation among the ruling parties.
The government needs to concentrate its efforts on recovering the COVID-hit economy, attaining high economic growth and creating more jobs within the country. It is needless to reiterate that the nation has now been going through a liquidity crisis, widening trade deficit and runaway inflation. The government must make every effort possible in order to tackle these challenges.
The resurgence of new variants of COVID-19 might pose a serious threat to public health once again. Neighbouring countries such as China and India are reported to have started recording more cases of the pandemic in recent times. So, taking this into serious consideration, the government should manage booster doses to contain the spread of this deadly viral disease. Other necessary measures such as installing health desks at border points are also vital for dealing with this problem.
Following a surprising political development, the Nepali Congress (NC), which is the largest party in the hung parliament, has been left in the lurch. With 89 seats in HoR, the party will now remain in opposition. NC leaders and cadres have accused party president Sher Bahadur Deuba and his inner circle of depriving the party of a good opportunity to remain in power. The CPN-Maoist Centre had proposed to lead the government for the initial two and a half years and transfer the government’s leadership to the NC. But Deuba and his coterie, as reported by the media, were not flexible enough to do so.
Deuba was eager to hold the post of PM for a record sixth time. The septuagenarian has been reluctant to transfer leadership to young generations as well. Despite repeated requests from the party’s rank and file, he fielded his candidacy for the parliamentary party leader. Deuba won the position again by defeating youth leader and general secretary Gagan Kumar Thapa. Deuba did not listen to his colleagues other than his coterie. But an irony was that the CPN-Maoist Centre left the NC to join forces with another coalition led by the CPN-UML.
The NC and the CPN-Maoist Centre had been among the major partners in the erstwhile five-party ruling coalition since July 2021. They had also forged an electoral alliance. However, they failed to secure a clear majority in the lower house of the federal parliament. Anyway, the presence of a strong opposition in parliament is expected to be helpful for keeping a close look at the activities of the government. Its constructive role could be instrumental in bringing the government on track and improving governance.
(Dahal is a deputy executive editor of this daily.)