A hat full of sky

The seven-party alliance (SPA) had made a lot of promises during the recent Jana Andolan. Easy as it is to make promises, it is equally difficult to keep them. Some may be tall promises, others that could have been made good, too, are often neglected by politicians when they ride to power by winning public confidence. People who had been shown the prospect of better days feel let down. During the Jana Andolan, the SPA had made many commitments — political, economic and otherwise. On the political front, the government is giving cause for concern. It is not widely seen to be working towards constituent assembly elections seriously and sincerely as responsible members of the cabinet and top leaders of some SPA constituents are saying conflicting or confusing things in public about the conditionalities for the promulgation of an interim constitution and formation of the interim government, even contrary to the 12-point and 8-point agreements.

The SPA had even pledged to take tough action against those who would play a role in suppressing the recent movement and to make those officials and politicians who would squander the public purse in a wasteful manner to prop up the royal regime to cough up the money. Four months into the success of the Jana Andolan, and the public is still deeply suspici-ous whether these and other pledges will be fulfilled the way the government is going. No doubt, it has made some decisions towards this end, for instance, regarding the compensation to those injured and free treatment of their injuries and illnesses sustained in course of the pro-democracy protests, apart from the compensation and facilities for the families of the martyrs. The people are still hoping that the government will live up to its public commitments.

Among a number of other promises was the announcement by Finance Minister Dr Ram Sharan Mahat in his budget speech that the interest on loans taken by the industries shut down during the period of the Jana Andolan would be waived. However, a Rastra Bank official has made it clear that the interest would not be charged only if the government deposited the accrued interest for the period in the bank. Indeed, commercial banks cannot afford

to forgive the interest on their own just because the government announces it. It is always easier to become generous at somebody else’s expense. The government also often adopts populist measures by making free with the taxpayers’ money, which is without doubt a wrong approach. On the other hand, successive governments have failed to stand up for public interests; for example, they have utterly failed to crack down on the major loan defaulters who have taken billions of rupees from the two public sector banks. This does not reflect the concern on the government’s part for the millions of depositors who have thus been defrauded. The people in power have promises to keep, and have miles to go before they sleep.