The expansion of the cabinet is likely to take more time. The average time of formation of a coalition government in Europe is said to be about 38 days. The present government has already spent double this time period. The delay has occurred due to the different degrees of attractions attached to ministries
Nepal has been undergoing yet another ordeal of a coalition nightmare despite giving a near to two-thirds mandate to the communists after being fed up with coalition governments of the past that were marked by all the evils possible under the sun, such as corruption, non-performance and political instability.
The present coalition government has exceeded all the limits of dismal performance by not being able to expand the cabinet even after 75 days of its formation.
The assurance of the coalition partners to install a full-fledged government soon has been reminiscent of Bhanubhakta, the first poet of Nepal, whose tomorrow is well known for its endless repetitions.
The recent coalition had come to power following the undemocratic activities of the K P Oli government.
The Oli government not only embarked on anti-constitutional activities on numerous occasions as exemplified by the dissolution of the House of Representatives repeatedly, but there is also no end to its loud mouth as it continues to justify them on the pretext of going for a fresh mandate.
Popular mandate has its supremacy without any doubt, but it also has a certain timing regarding when it should be sought for.
It is, however, unfortunate that the coalition government has been involved in a frantic bid to outdo the other in the violation of the constitution.
The erstwhile government passed a Political Party Act, which was the bone of contention between the government and the opposition.
But the same blunder was repeated by the following coalition government to engineer a split in the political parties.
Now when it has been felt as a double edged sword for further split offs, it has been cancelled by passing yet another bill, thereby exposing the coalition as a bunch of political misfits devoid of clear vision as well as mission.
It is no wonder then that the Parliament has not been able to conduct its usual proceedings due to the obstruction mounted by the opposition on the allegation of partisan behavior by the Speaker. One of the lawmakers, Ganga Chowdhury, attracted attention for biting one of the marshals in the Parliament.
It provided the memory of the football star, Luis Suarez of Uruguay, for sinking his teeth into the arm of the rival player for the third time in his career.
Theoreticians have conceptualised coalitions in the form of two models.
The collegial model believes in the cabinet as the focus of decision-making.
It is characterised by intraparty bargaining and coordination.
The second model is the ministerial model, which has a base in ministerial autonomy. It equates government formation as the allocation of ministries to individual parties. Once the portfolios are distributed, the ministers act on their own as if they are autonomous.
They decide what is best for the individual parties, little caring whether it is good for the government or not.
The first coalition government of Nepal was installed in 1995 with the present Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba at the helm of affairs. This government ran into controversy right from the beginning as it was formed by hijacking parliamentarians in broad daylight. It later followed a ministerial model as the ministers
were doing what they thought was best. It was also known as a Jumbo Cabinet as the number of ministers ran over 50, which was detrimental for a small country like Nepal.
This fashion continued till much later when one of the prime ministers, Babu Ram Bhattarai, very rightly admitted not to know some of the ministers on account of their large numbers. The present government, however, is following the collegiate model because there are only five ministers at the present. It is likely to continue with this model as the number of ministers have been limited to 25 due to the abuse of the state coffer by forming a large cabinet.
The situation in India was not any better. After the formation of the first ever coalition party in the history of post-independence India after the 1977 election, the Janata Party followed the collegiate model.
Consequently, one of its ministers, Raj Narain, squatted on the floor and spurned the usual table and chair seating arrangement.
His contention was that the ministers should not deviate from the life style followed by its voters.
Though Britain, Spain and Greece have enjoyed majority governments over the years, the other parties in Europe did not have this political luxury. As a result, coalition governance in Europe has become kind of routine.
This phenomenon can be discerned in the recent polling in Germany. The coalition parties wish to address the voters' responsiveness in their political dispensation.
But due to the fear of a breakup in the coalition cabinet, it at times falls in the shadow.
If this is the state of coalition politics in a developed Europe, its condition in Nepal can be very easily predicted.
It is for sure that the needs of the country and countrymen will be out of the radar of the present government. It will spend the time in maintaining an equilibrium between different coalition partners till the eve of the next election.
The expansion of the cabinet is likely to take more time. The average time of formation of a coalition government in Europe is said to be about 38 days. The present government has already spent double this time period.
The delay has occurred due to the different degrees of attractionsattached to the different ministries.
In fact, no ministry should be different from each other theoretically. In Nepal, the ministries are assessed in terms of the benefit that they will bring to the minister and his party than the benefit that it brings to the nation and the people at large.
This lack of rational mindset, clouded by corrupt thinking, is responsible for all the problems brewing in the Nepali political arena.
A version of this article appears in the print on October 5, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.