PM stresses consensus as uncertainty over govt fate looms

KATHMANDU: Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli on Thursday addressed the Parliament amid recent political developments which have cast uncertainty over the fate of the incumbent government.

Oli's address came few hours after UCPN-Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal reportedly told Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba that the government under his leadership was not easily possible, clearing speculations over immediate change of the guard.

The uncertainty over the fate of the government, however, still looms as the Maoist party has reportedly agreed to give continuity to this government only till the next budget announcement next month.

'No Parliament dissolution'

In beginning of his address, the Prime Minister said he was ready to accept criticisms against the government including the ones expressed in the Parliament meetings for last couple of days. He said he had taken them as warnings against him and the Cabinet.

Meanwhile, Oli clarified that he was not for dissolving the Parliament to avoid criticisms and risks lying in front of him and the government.

Oli, however, maintained that he was ready to quit on the day he would lose the hold of majority in the Parliament.

Consensus mantra

Oli said he was ready to give a shape of national consensus government to the incumbent Cabinet itself.

"Today also, we need consensus," he said, "Let us maintain the national consensus and change the government."

"Neither me, nor my party will obstruct the national consensus," Oli said, adding the consensus should be forged on the basis of national interests.

Oli, however, pointed out that raising demands for a consensus government and a strong opposition simultaneously are logically incompatible. He was referring to recent reports which claimed the main opposition Nepali Congress wanted to form the national government under the UCPN-Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal's leadership.

Clarification on accusations

Apparently referring to Nepali Congress, PM KP Sharma Oli said he was always for consensus, but some other political parties deviated from consensus and remained stubborn toward moving ahead.

Oli clarified that the incumbent government was not "designed somewhere else."

He said many forces were trying to linger instability in Nepal and major political forces needed to sit together and hold meaningful discussions to combat them.

"I want to call the main opposition for this," he said.

During the speech, Oli had repeatedly expressed readiness to seek solution of contemporary political problems through consensus.

'Cabinet size in accordance to Constitution'

Oli defended the jumbo size of his Cabinet claiming the size kept on expanding in an attempt to incorporate as many as parties as possible to make it close to a consensus government.

He funnily remarked that the transitional provision of the Constitution allows him to expand the Cabinet further, though he would not do so now.

Oli, however, accepted that the government was not able to control black marketing and regulate the supply system.

He expressed a commitment to make improvements on the issues while moving ahead.

'Reconstruction process going on'

PM KP Sharma Oli also said the government was also taking ahead post-earthquake reconstruction efforts effectively.

The Prime Minister attributed the delay in the reconstruction drive to the delay in formation of the National Reconstruction Authority and passage of the law for its functioning.

He informed the House that all assistance pledges committed by donors for the reconstruction drive were not received.

He said the reconstruction process was being carried out in cooperation with all political parties including the main opposition as the constitution of the NRA itself was inclusive of the parties.

Oli also presented some data on the ongoing reconstruction efforts, apparently as an answer to the lawmakers' concerns over the relayed rebuilding process.

"The reconstruction is not possible within moments," he said, "It should be taken ahead very minutely."

"We have considered what works should be completed each year," informing that the government had aimed to complete the reconstruction process in next five years.

'Constitution can be amended, but not rewritten'

KP Sharma Oli spent some minutes of his speech to defend the Constitution promulgated last year and the procedures adopted in its promulgation.

He also informed that the first amendment to the Constitution was also a need of the time to give the nation an outlet from the political crisis.

The Prime Minister clarified that rewriting of the Constitution, as demanded by some Madhesi political parties, however, was unacceptable to the government.

The Constitution written by the Constituent Assembly can not be rewritten, but can be amended to address timely needs, he maintained.

Oli urged parties to give a full shape to a commission headed by Deputy Prime Minister Kamal Thapa formed to finalise demarcation of states and let it complete the assignment.

The Prime Minister, during the speech, also informed the House about major steps taken by the government to implement the Constitution.

He was of the view that the government was carrying out the task of Constitution implementation at a speedy pace.

'Withdrawal of cases only through court'

Oli, in response to concerns of his coalition ally, UCPN-Maoist, said cases related to human rights violation during the war era could not be withdrawn haphazardly.

If need be, the withdrawal process could be taken ahead only through the courts of justice, he clarified.

Old promises repeated

Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli repeated some of his old promises including ending the load shedding within a year, generating cooking gas from garbage and replacing tuins (cable crossings) within next one year.

He also said the government was making plans and preparations to produce as much as 10,000 megawatt electricity in next 10 years.

"Though people are restless (with my plans)" Oli said, "I will do it," claiming he would construct railway lines in Kathmandu, Pokhara and Lumbini.

Oli said now the next generations would not need to visit India to observe a railway line.

As always, in his nearly two hour long address, the Prime Minister had made some sarcastic remarks over accusations and criticisms against the government.