Jagannath Khatiwada, a leader of ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP), is known for his ‘speaking on your face’ approach with ‘as-it-is’ attitude without bothering about what political effects his statement will have. Though he belongs to the ruling party, his criticism of the government and Prime Minister K. P. Oli gives the impression that he is paddling for the opposition party. He cautions Prime Minister Oli and his government ruling over Nepal with a two-thirds majority to honor the sentiments of the people and correctly read their mood, or else he and his advisers will get the shock of their life to get finished politically. All round criticism of NCP and non-fulfillment of the promises made by its leaders will leave a deep wound which will never heal, warns Khatiwada. Time is still there, Prime Minister Oli who is also the chairperson of the Nepal Communist Party must get his firm foot placed on the ground and must stop flying high ignoring the political reality of the country, cautions Khatiwada. PM Oli should go for extensive dialogue to thrash out the differences within his own party and reach the conclusions. Here are the excerpts of the interaction Khabarhub had with ruling party leader Jagannath Khatiwada:
The political party with such a strong mandate to rule over the country is embroiled into politically unsavory events putting a question mark on getting another chance to rule over Nepal. Its regular erosion in public trust has raised the issue of its political credibility. What is happening to Nepal Communist Part’?
I look at the present problem of the ruling party from two different perspectives. We could not bring all our good works in the knowledge of people. We should have launched friendly media campaigns and public contacts with people of Nepal to tell them what exactly the government is doing and what it is planning to do besides its other achievements of last one year. Senior party leaders and other ministers in charge of important portfolios must come forward to defend the ruling party by highlighting its strengths and achievements. What I saw is that Prime Minister Oli speaks condescendingly to project his achievements in a hawkish and haughty manner. He inflates the things while his ministers are seeing evading the important issues of people’s concerns. I didn’t find any minister who is motivated enough to walk extra miles to gain long-lasting fame for their public work. There are achievements of this government which according to me has not reached the people.
No doubt, there are some irritants which bother all of us. The promise of giving good governance is still not fulfilled. It shows that there is tension in the government machinery where tussle between doers and non-doers in every department has paralyzed the efficiency and effectiveness of the system. Something is holding back the government from becoming proactive and go-getter.
Prime Minister Oli and his close confidants accuse the party men of turning hostile against the present government. What do you have to say?
There is no question of being non-cooperative with PM Oli and hostile against his government, as there is no possibility of all these at all. You see the situation yourself. Any accusation against PM Oli or non-performance of the present Government will ultimately fall down on us — Nepal Communist Party. Our party will bear the brunt of whatever PM Oli and his ministers are blamed for or accused of. What a suffering it is for a party which will gradually lose its lusters and credibility amongst the Nepalese people! PM Oli must not forget that he is also the chairperson of the Nepal Communist Party besides being the executive head of the country. We have reached a situation where the beginning of the end of NCP has set in. The inaction of the present government and policy paralysis in offices of Prime Minister and other ministers will tarnish the political image of our communist party.
It is so because opposition parties will not question K.P. Oli and his chosen ministers over the inaction and shabby performance of the Government rather they will attack ‘Nepal Communist Party’ for keeping the country under hostage for 5 long years without delivering on the promises of peace and prosperity of the nation. Both oppositions and people will ask us — ‘the party’ why promises of development of the country didn’t see the broad daylight. They will not direct this question to K. P. Oli and moreover, Oli must not forget that a day will come he will complete his term and will have to face the people in the next general elections. We, party men, have to face the brickbats or receive the bouquet for non-performance or performance of the present government. Therefore, from where does this question arise that NCP is responsible for the non-performance of the government? We party men in no way can ever be against the incumbent government; we are genuinely worried about the government, instead. It is just not possible morally, practically and scientifically to go against it.
In a political situation like this, do you see any possibility of better options or alternatives? We have opposition parties in democratic governance to raise voice against the mistakes of the government. How relevant and practical it is to raise voice against your own government as you are the ruling party? How do you look at the whole situation?
Looking at the temperament of PM Oli and observing his personality traits, I don’t see he has enough patience to listen to constructive criticism of his government’s performance. Neither will he take any suggestions to improve upon the state of stagnancy his government is currently going through. He is not a man to correct his wrongs and get back even if he is wrong. He lives in his own world of making. The things he likes even if they are wrong for others will never be corrected. He doesn’t like even academic discussion or scientific critical analysis in matters which he is associated with. He is the man beyond any review and revision of his speech and action. Prime Minister like him can never understand what suffering countrymen are going through.
If the government functions the way it is doing now, not only PM Oli but the ‘Nepal Communist Party’ will also lose the political relevance here in Nepal. Take the example of Guthi Bill. The government pulled back the bill. Media Bill also met with the same fate. Inflation is rising. Government is not consulting the Party. Internal differences and factionalism are on rising within Nepal Communist Party. Is it the way to run a political party?
We believe we can put our party on track and make it run as it used to be. There is a tremendous pressure both on the Government as well as on our senior leadership to encourage ‘deliberative culture’ within the party to sustain the inner party democracy. Dialogues and discussions at all levels namely secretariat, head office and standing committee must take place. Party workers must be given the chance to put forward their problems and challenges along with their suggestions to solve them. Senior party leaders must interact with junior leaders within the party at a regular basis. All the decisions within the party must be made on designated formal platforms (and committees) thereby discouraging any attempt to pass decision behind the curtains and through informal negotiations between the senior leaders. Our party has not reached a stage where no course correction is in sight. All of us are sure that there will definitely be a course correction.
Next thing is about constructive criticism of the performance of the incumbent Prime Minister. Earlier many party activists and local leaders were the supporters of K. P. Oli standing behind him. Now, all of them are critically reviewing his performance as Prime Minister and are coming out in open against his anti-people decisions taken recently. These are enough indications for the present Prime Minister to get alerted and concentrate more on his performance and less on misleading talks.
Do you think the bureaucracy of Nepal has shown improvement in terms of curbing corruption within and stepping up for good governance?
If at all bureaucracy has been in an improved state of performance, why the present Government has failed to deliver on the promises made to people of Nepal in last elections? The current lot of ministers have failed to revamp the bureaucracy laying in inertia. We require a new group of ministers who can strictly take the bureaucracy on task and go for implementing the development projects and programs. What kind of structural change is needed will be decided by the Prime Minister, his advisers and of course Nepal Communist Party. As a whole, Nepal needs to be ready for a whole lot of reforms.