Call it courage

The formation of the present cabinet was preceded by days of bickering among the seven parties. The six-member cabinet finally came into being on May 2, almost a week after the royal proclamation. The Nepali populace became increasingly impatient with the delay and inability of the Koirala-led government to speedily address the popular agenda in parliament along the spirit of the Jana Andolan. Frustrating as the delay may have been, for obvious reasons, the people want a expeditious fulfilment of their demands from the government put in place through a popular mandate. Since the new government is the product of an unprecedented people’s movement, it has to recognise and act upon the numerous challenges besetting it. The dispensation is faced with the most difficult task of bringing about fundamental changes in the state structure as desired by various quarters. It has to, for instance, come up as soon as possible with an appropriate framework for restructuring the state after all necessary deliberations leading to a consensus in parliament so that the long-standing grievances of the neglected masses are suitably redressed.

Even though the present arrangement is a lameduck one since a real and a freely elected legitimate government would emerge only after the completion of the polls held under a new statute fashioned by the constituent assembly, the present one, nevertheless, has to act like a beaconing light to the process of writing a new constitution. As there is a long-way to go before the final adoption of the next statute, the government is obliged to lay the foundation for its ultimate adoption. It is thus futile for the government to waste too much of the precious time and energy over administrative wranglings. It should instead engage in high-level thinking surrounding major national issues like unitary vs federal form of government, economic roadmap, foreign policy and social inclusion, to name just a few. It would be advisable for the ministers to concentrate on important matters of state affairs rather than in seminars and other ribbon-cutting exercises. Now is the time to deliver, not preach.

Meanwhile, the government need not come under the kind of unnecessary pressure that is currently being put on it by various groups. While it is impractical to expect the government to function effectively amidst sectarian pressures, there is no need for it to be populist in its overall approach, either. What the ministers actually need to understand is that the most important factor — the popular will — should be deemed the only motivating force behind the government. As it is working in no ordinary times, the government should demonstrate extraordinary courage faced as it is with extraordinary challenges.