Tuesday, 2 March, 2021

PM's Prerogatives And Election

Gopal Khanal


Finally, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli was compelled to take an unprecedented move -- dissolution of the House of Representative (HoR). But, he also announced the mid-term polls simultaneously. While addressing the Nepali people, Prime Minister Oli clarified that it was not intended, not chosen; rather it was a compulsive move to save the nation.
Many have deliberately pulled the first declaration, the dissolution of HoR and labelled Prime Minister Oli of being despotic. They do not bring the second announcement, the election for fresh mandate in discourse. The Prime Minister is clear -- he wants to seek fresh mandate, but he will not compromise with the spoilers of the party, whose sole aim is to capture power.

Plot foiled
Though the Prime Minister's action seems unpopular at first glance, it foiled a design to capture power. The disgruntled fraction led by Prachanda-Nepal had long been holding secret fractional meetings with sole agenda of dismissing Oli from both posts - party chair and Prime Minister. The quick-witted Oli was all aware of the plot. He had two options - either to surrender to the egocentric and greedy leaders or to break that temporary pact with self-centred leaders. And, obviously he chose the latter.
It was obvious that the party would feel immediate repercussion. On 22 December, the NCP faced backlash. Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli extended the central committee of the party and submitted a list of members of the enlarged CC to the Election Commission (EC). The Prachanda-Nepal faction unanimously made Madhav Kumar Nepal as the second chairman. The EC will ultimately decide the validity. Prime Minister's party has officially appointed Pradeep Kumar Gyawali as spokesperson of the party ousting Narayan Kaji Shrestha.
The Prachanda-Nepal faction elected Dahal as the parliamentary leader removing Oli. The unification of the erstwhile CPN-UML and CPN-Maoist (Centre) was unprecedented. Moreover, the unity between Oli and Prachanda was unbelievable. But, it happened. The left alliance won overwhelming majority and Oli became Prime Minister for five years.
Propaganda apart, Prime Minister Oli has done nothing wrong that might have made the Nepali people desperate. Instead, he initiated some historic works, which resembled the continuation of his first premiership. In 2016, Oli succeeded to build his image as statesman by leading the Nepali national interest and fighting against India's blockade. He has consolidated Nepal's trade and transit relations with China by signing historic Transport-Transit agreement. Nepal became land-linked from landlocked status.
In his second and current tenure of Premiership, Oli has not compromised national interest and territorial integrity. His target was to achieve the national motto of 'Prosperous Nepal, Happy Nepali'. The patriotic PM was there, but some party insiders disguised as leaders concentrated their whole strength to defame him. They failed since Oli didn’t budge.
The issuance of Nepal's updated map that incorporates Limpiyadhura, Lipulek and Kalapani, Nepali territories encroached and controlled by India since 1962, scientific measurement of Sagarmatha, and unveiling of integrated foreign policy are some of the milestones.
The only disturbing factor was party leaders Prachanda and Nepal who never uttered a single word for the significant achievements made by the government. They thought if they mistakenly expressed even an affirmative note to the performance of the government, the lifespan of the Oli government would be longer.
All along nearly three years, they tried to highlight mistakes, waited for the opportunity to expose Oli, but could find none. Then they started throwing mud on Oli but that also back-fired. A very bizarre situation ensued. Due to the internal feud, Oli government came under undue scrutiny of external powers. Prachanda and Nepal didn't think how the government and the party should have addressed the agenda of the people; they only thought how they could remove Oli and seize power.
The Prime Minister's move is constitutional and democratic. Though the case is sub-judice, the Supreme Court will give final verdict. On 23 December, the single bench of Chief Justice Cholendra Sumsher Rana has refused to issue an interim order against the government's decision to dissolve the HoR. In parliamentary democracy, the Prime Minister has some prerogatives. If the PM thinks he should go for fresh election, he can. Election is the soul of democracy. A democratic party cannot oppose an election.

Prime Minister Oli has openly expressed his compulsion to go for election. If an elected Prime Minister is obstructed to work for the nation and the people, he or she can tell the reality to the people and can seek fresh mandate. If Oli has committed a mistake, people will penalise him, if not, NCP led by Oli will again win the vote and lead the government.
It is an opportunity for Prachanda and Nepal to prove their popularity. Nepal became the factional president, now it's Prachanda’s turn to become Prime Minister by winning majority seats of the HoR. Conspiracy and factional meetings are not the right and legal platforms to select the Prime Minister.

(Khanal is consulting editor at Gorkhapatra Corporation. khanalbro@gmail.com) 

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