PM unloads himself in a freewheeling session with editors

Kathmandu, August 27

In a nearly two-hour long speech followed by frank parleys with editors of leading newspapers and digital portals in the comfort of the ground floor sitting room at the prime minister’s official residence, KP Sharma Oli today spoke pretty much about everything that crossed his mind.

He took a jibe at the Maoist insurgency and spoke at length about the pains in the run-up to the promulgation of the new constitution and the circumstances that played out afterwards, right till the local, provincial and parliamentary elections last year.

Subversive forces that have tried to break communal harmony are still active and there are serious conspiracies against Nepal, the prime minister warned, implicitly referring to radical splinter groups in parts of Nepal, including the southern plains. Oli called this ‘a clash of civilisations’. “It’s easy to provoke sentiments but extremely difficult to maintain and restore social harmony,” the prime minister said. “But we have managed to contain them.”

He tried to allay accusations coming mainly from opposition parties in Parliament that the government was acting like a totalitarian regime. “For more than half a century I have fought for people’s rights, prosperity and equality,” the PM said.

Good governance and development is high on the government’s agenda. “We should concentrate all our means and resources at our disposal to ensure good governance and development, which can help us achieve a prosperous and happy Nepal.”

“Prosperity is a necessary condition for happiness, but it alone cannot guarantee happiness,” he said. “We will achieve prosperity and happiness through good governance and development.”

“By the time, we meet the SDG goals we will have seen the indicators of prosperous and happy Nepal,” an upbeat PM said.

He sounded discontented with the bureaucracy, but was cautious in his expression. “You know how it is,” he said. “It needs to be well-oiled and lubricated as punitive measures do not seem to work.”

The prime minister expressed content about the handling of foreign relations.

“We have done away with the misunderstandings with India and relations with China have developed credibly,” he said. “Both neighbours have the capacity to help us, can buy our products, provide us huge markets with ever increasing number of population with rising purchasing capacity.”

Relations with other neighbours are good as well, the prime minister said, adding that the government looks forward to bringing foreign investment.

The Bimstec summit taking place in Kathmandu is a big opportunity for Nepal when the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation is not making much headway, the PM said. “We need the Bimstec, perhaps more than anyone does.”

Oli said his government had intensified investigation into the rape and murder in Kanchanpur. “The Superintendent of Police has been suspended, the Chief District Officer and Deputy Superintendent of Police have been recalled. A new investigation team has been sent to Kanchanpur and families of the victims have been given one million rupees, each.”

The PM said his government will not indulge in corruption, nepotism or in acts of commissions and financial embezzlements. “There will be tougher measures in the days ahead.”

But he also had a word of caution to the editors: Journalists are free to write about anything, but we got to be little cautious, lest the writings make people pessimistic. “We cannot allow the people to be pessimistic, for that will be most unfortunate for a country.”