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PM Deuba, can you handle it?

Ishwar Dev Khanal

August 19, 2021

8 MIN READ

PM Deuba, can you handle it?
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Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba finds himself in troubled waters that might essentially have consequences, probably detrimental.

Reminisce what PM Deuba, also Nepali Congress (NC) President, said in the House of Representatives (HoR) — “I will mend the political fences and address the country’s COVID-19 pandemic, and form a government that reflects all political forces.”

By saying so, he seemed to be flushed with new power, and looked confident because he did or did not realize the fact that he would be facing a daunting task ahead.

PM Deuba should have been aware of the fact that “if someone wants to move fast, he/she first needs to move slowly”.

I repeat. He looked confident. His message was loud and clear that he would stick to his promises of giving a way out to the political imbroglio forming a government through consensus for this chronically unstable South Asian nation soon after he swiftly sought a vote of confidence in the parliament.

Like former Prime Minister KP Oli, PM Deuba, too, campaigned on the idea that he would not fall prey to the lack of will or sluggishness.

Similarly, the fact that ethical and honest people are pushed out thus leading to an escalation with a lack of accountability coupled with lawlessness also cannot be ruled out.

He should have known that things will not be different when he enters Baluwatar and Singha Durbar burdened with a long list of promises, and with a team that lacked expertise.

People then were optimistic. They believed that Prime Minister Deuba and his Council of Ministers would engage in bringing what he had said “derailed political course” back to its course.

However, on the contrary, he decided to prorogue the House of Representatives on Monday and brought the ordinance to split the party the very next day (Tuesday) leading to a formal split of two political parties — the CPN-UML and the Janata Samajbadi Party.

PM Deuba, who labeled former Prime Minister KP Oli’s decision of dissolving the parliament “arbitrary and unconstitutional”, is likely to undergo a set of challenges both from the party and the coalition partners since he took an arbitrary step by bringing an ordinance that paved the way for party split of both the CPN-UML and the Janata Samajbadi Party.

Now, if this is the pattern of his work, will he be able to convince the people who were expecting that he would work needle and thread to bail the country out from the current mess? Perhaps, some may say “yes”, while for many, the answer may be “no”.

PM Deuba should consider is that nothing will come to his table with perfection or something that can be perfectly solved. Notwithstanding the pros and cons, PM Deuba has to own that and make a decision since the country’s Prime Minister, as the Executive Head, cannot remain paralyzed or passive.

On the other hand, as Nepali Congress — once a submissive opposition – was initially thrilled, energized, enthused after coming to power.

Sadly, they had perhaps not even assumed that Deuba will have a daunting task to accomplish – from appointing affluent businessmen like Umesh Shrestha as State Minister for Health and Population to bringing an ordinance.

For Deuba, scandals are not new since his party boasts of housing a significant number of “yes-men”, aides and friendly media accustomed to easily spinning aside such humiliation. And, in the end, PM Deuba and other leaders very well know that voters don’t seem to care much.

Given the weight of this situation, it will be too early for the people to trust PM.

People want to know whether Deuba’s work will be fair, and they will also be looking for a Prime Minister who can set a new record by forming a team of skilled people in his cabinet and create a culture of responsibility, righteousness and respectability as even a toddler knows that a culture of corruption has set in, and where authorities and cabinet ministers put their interests before the public interest.

Similarly, the fact that ethical and honest people are pushed out thus leading to an escalation with a lack of accountability coupled with lawlessness also cannot be ruled out.

On the other hand, he also has the task of interacting and “balancing” Nepal’s relations with neighboring and other friendly countries, including India and China as the opposition parties may also indulge in nationalist rhetoric alleging PM Deuba for leading a “comfortable” government that has a vast store of international influence.

Another significant thing that PM Deuba should consider is that nothing will come to his table with perfection or something that can be perfectly solved.

Notwithstanding the pros and cons, PM Deuba has to own that and make a decision since the country’s Prime Minister, as the Executive Head, cannot remain paralyzed or passive.

Mr. PM, the load will continue to become enormously greater, and the weight of your job will grow even heavier. It is long and tough work. The ball is in your court!

He also needs to get prepared to endure the relentless criticism from various walks of life since he will also be undergoing a bunch of emotional burdens besides the political ones.

Among others, the list goes long, including addressing the 11-point agreement signed by the previous government with CK Raut, the three-point agreement signed with Netra Bikram Chand “Biplav”, releasing leaders and cadres of the Janata Samajwadi Party from jails, and clearing all legal hurdles related to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

The Prime Minister also needs to worry that he might somehow slip while undertaking a task, including managing his own party, and hold its upcoming 14th General Convention, which he needs to do a lot of make-work and ass-covering.

Either way, until he tries to fix his office, PM Deuba will continue to be frustrated, and Nepali, too, will continue to be disappointed again.

PM Deuba’s integrity will also come under scrutiny since if and when he leads the country into the general election, the contest will definitely be dominated by his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic as he had promised before the parliament.

Mr. PM, the load will continue to become enormously greater, and the weight of your job will grow even heavier. It is long and tough work. The ball is in your court!

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