Amresh Kumar Singh is one of the most dynamic youth leaders of the Nepali Congress party. In a recent interview with Khabarhub, Singh, a lawmaker elected from Sarlahi-4, openly discussed various issues ranging from the performance appraisal of the government, the role of the main opposition party, the forthcoming general assembly of Nepali Congress, the status of Nepal’s foreign policy to the diplomatic maturity of the incumbent government, among other issues. Excerpts of the interview:
The Federal Parliament Secretariat distributed Dashain allowance as per last year’s decision. After wide criticism, the lawmakers decided to deposit the amount in the coronavirus control and treatment fund. Why was it so?
The government is defamed by various scandals it has committed. The defamed communist government seems to be trying to defame the parliament as well.
The decision of distributing the Dashain allowance is also the ill-intent decision made in that direction. There is the terror of coronavirus pandemic. A large number of people are likely to be exposed to starvation. Poverty has worsened. The suicide cases are also increasing day by day.
The government has withdrawn its commitment to help the poor, needy, and marginalized and has started levying various charges from the pandemic-ridden people.
High-level officials and government office bearers enjoy free checkup whereas poor people are denied treatment as they can’t pay high charge required for the PCR test and treatment of coronavirus.
We have decided to donate the allowance to the government fund for coronavirus control and treatment gesturing that if the government defied the fundamental right to health because of the financial crisis it should stop extravagance.
We protested against the inhuman decision of the government that prohibited the entry of the poor and marginalized in the hospitals.
To prevent the parliament from being defamed, we decided to deposit the allowance in the government fund. The lawmakers are wise, they are sensitive towards the suffering of the people; it’s only the government that has been calculating the commission and extra income it can make from the sufferings of the poor.
The right to health is the fundamental right here, the Supreme Court has also asked the government to hint at this fact, but the government has turned deaf ears to it.
We demand the government abide by the constitution, the directions of the Supreme Court related to the right to health.
But the lawmakers had bagged Dashain Allowance last year as well. How rational is the protest?
But there was no pandemic last year. There was no economic crisis like this as well.
Should the money deposited in the COVID-19 fund be regarded as a donation or a refund?
Despite several corruption scams, it acted that it was unable to pay for the treatment of the people citing lack of fund. The government forgot its election manifesto, the promises made to the people, the common rational function of the government as well. So, our party decided to deposit the allowance in coronavirus control and treatment fund.
The parliamentary meeting of NC decided to deposit 4.3 million rupees the NC lawmakers received as Dashain allowance in the COVID-19 fund.
What’s your response towards the measures the government has taken for the prevention, control, and treatment against coronavirus pandemic?
There was a time when the government was hung in every electric pole. The government is still hanging there. It has not moved towards the people’s doorsteps. I recently returned from my home district.
There is no government in the village. The government has not taken the responsibility for health and education. There is corruption everywhere.
There is an atrocity from the ruling party as well. The government has not listened to the main opposition party. It has not abided by the democratic system.
The people who protest against the government become a victim of false accusations. We want the government to promote justice, but the government has been abusing the power and protecting the guilty and hatching conspiracies against the opposition.
The executive should ensure the rule of law, but the government is trying to operate with ‘rule by law’ now. The government is visionless; it has no specific plans to curb the coronavirus pandemic.
The government has failed to specify which group to focus on. It does not know who is worse affected by the coronavirus.
The government has failed to manage quarantine, isolation, food and treatment for the people in quarantine centers. Nearly 20% of the population has become vulnerable to starvation due to the coronavirus pandemic.
It has also utilized the pandemic for corruption. There had been no such corruption before. Billions of rupees have been spent, yet the target group has not been identified till now.
Coronavirus has turned out to be an opportunity for corruption to the government. The hollowness of the health sector has been well exposed by this pandemic.
How do you evaluate the government’s foreign policy especially with the big neighbors India and China?
The government has become a Chinese puppet. It’s in the lap of China. Some 25 km of my constituency borders with India. I know about the border since I was ten.
In the last 40 years, I have never found any dispute in this part of the border, yet the Nepal government has dug pitches in the borders now. Blocking the border this way, I think, is not good both constitutionally and diplomatically.
We have to remember that most of the Nepalis in the border area are dependent on the Indian market for their daily living and shopping too.
The government has shut the mouth of those people without offering them the basics for livelihood. It’s unacceptable and inhumane. First, there should be alternatives to people before taking such decisions.
The police do not let the public use the border market during the day but the racketeers entertain the route during the night time. It has made life there difficult.
The government is working on Chinese projects. Giving loans to the government, corrupting the political leadership and making it fall into a debt trap is the Chinese policy.
If it’s not checked, we have to be under Chinese pressure all the time. I see the future blur due to the imbalanced foreign policy of the government.
What do you say about the boundary dispute with China?
The government policy is to appease China. The government spoke blindly without waiting for its authentic field report about the land encroachment in Humla.
Proving itself pro-Chinese the government said China has not encroached on the land. There is a fake pillar in the steeps of Sindhupalchow, a village in Gorkha has been encroached by China, yet the government says nothing.
That government is trying to make Nepal a communist state. Nepal is a democratic state. The Communist party has won in election and is running the government.
People voted for the government just because they wanted a stable government, but the government has proved it doesn’t deserve trust. It has become a Chinese pimp.
The government has nurtured scams one after another. The government has committed scams one after another: Baluwatar land scam, Wide Body scam, Yeti Holdings scam, Ncell scam, Security Printing Press scam, Omni scam, etc.
Sadly, the authority to investigate such corruption cases, the Commission for the Abuse of Authority(CIAA) has become like the branch office of the government itself.
The corruption alleged against whom the Public Account Committee of the parliament directs CIAA to investigate and sue are offered clean chit by the CIAA without further investigation at all.
Talking about the relationship with the neighbors, Nepal- India had never been so poor before.
You said the relationship with India had never been so poor before. What led to such status?
During the economic blockade, the communist front adopted the policy of using the situation to bag vote chanting slogan against India.
The communists managed to get a majority in the election. However, what should be noted is most of the issues raised in the election are only to tempt voters.
That’s what we find in the issues related to two countries. Once the party reaches to the power, one has to be more responsible. The government has to think about the diplomatic relations and the measures to be taken to strengthen the relationship for the national interest.
Unfortunately, our government turned poor in it. Especially in maintaining diplomatic relations, our government performed below the grade. The PM made some controversial remarks to worsen the relation.
On the other hand, the Chinese Communist Party gave training to the ruling NCP on governance. The governance system of Nepal and China is not the same.
The controversy here has started after the ruling NCP got training from the Chinese Communist Party.
This sent the message to the world that China interferes in Nepal’s governance. The Chinese diplomats have started visiting the doorsteps of Nepali leaders.
The government has displayed immaturity in its diplomatic relations. The government is governed by whims. International relations are influenced by communist ideology. The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) is stuck in the parliament for months, however, the government is working on 37 projects related to BRI.
While criticizing the government, the public has not spared the main opposition Nepali Congress, they have regarded it as incapable and inefficient. What do you say about the public?
Yes, that’s partially true. Such issues have come about our party president and our main leader in the parliament. But, what everyone should understand is many of us have spoken against injustice, wrong decisions, corruption and many other issues of public interest.
We have protested both in the parliament and in the street as required. We are concerned about the future of democracy and we are committed to safeguarding it at any cost.
We want to free the country from communist autocracy. We are working on that. We will come more specifically about it soon.
Now talking about the General Convention of Nepali Congress, do you think it’s possible in the last week of February? If you think the GC is not possible, would you please explain the reasons?
There is no possibility of conducting the gala event of the party in the coming February.
The main obstruction is the COVID-19 pandemic. Another factor is the slackness on the part of party President Sher Bahadur Deuba.
Seeing frail chances of getting re-elected as party President, he seems willing to extend his tenure for some more time. The constitutional provision let him extend it up to September.
Even if done seriously without any delay, reaching to general convention takes around 4-5 months as the ward committees, municipalities, constituencies, district and province level conventions need enough time.
The distribution and renewal of active membership of the party are not complete yet.
What sort of picture of NC’s future leadership do you have in your mind?
The next President of the Nepali Congress will be someone else than the incumbent President Sher Bahadur Deuba and Senior Leader Ram Chandra Poudel.
NC aspires to see the guardianship of these leaders and needs someone else to perform the role of executive president. The country also expects the same.
We want the leadership that can safeguard democracy, leads the nation out from various adversities hampering its growth.
Most of our leaders are Kathmandu centered now. Unless the executive leaders visit the rural areas and listen to the expectations of the people of all parts, the party cannot get a new life.
Although he is not an executive role, Dr. Shekhar Koirala has visited most parts of the country instilling new life in the party members and the supporters.
He is also very popular among the party members. He has been abiding by democratic practices and systems in all issues he has been dealing with. He has raised a strong voice against irregularities of all sorts.
The rest of the issues will be settled by the general convention. One thing is obvious now, the convention this time will be different from the previous ones in many ways.
There will be more youths than before; the 33% representative of women will be ensured as well. And this group will play a decisive role in the convention.
Based on the 2.5 year’s performance of the incumbent government, what do you think the post-election time will be like?
NC will get a majority and make its government after the election. The people are fed up with this government. They want to uproot it.
I am sure that NC will get a majority in all tiers of government: local, provincial and federal levels. NC will refine and make necessary corrections as per the public expectation.
We will strive further for the national interest and national benefit. We will create an investment-friendly environment. We will enhance transparency. The government will be transparent.
We will ensure good governance. Our government will be the people’s government as it will be accountable to the people who elected their representatives. These all will make NC’s foundation further strong.