Let intra and interparty hostility not spill out onto the streets and jeopardise the efforts to contain the virus
The call for a joint struggle by five former prime ministers of Nepal against Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli portends political disturbances in the near future at a time when the coronavirus is raging across the country. Five former prime ministers from different parties – Sher Bahadur Deuba, Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Madhav Kumar Nepal, Jhalanath Khanal and Baburam Bhattarai – through a press statement the other day urged the people, civil society and democratic forces to unite against PM Oli's "continuous attacks" on the constitution. In the press statement, the five former PMs have hurled charges against PM Oli of dissolving the House unconstitutionally, taking a decision to export riverine products at the cost of environmental degradation in the Chure region, undemocratically reshuffling his Cabinet frequently and not paying serious attention to controlling the pandemic. Since the Prime Minister dissolved the House of Representatives for the second time in five months on May 22, the opposition parties and a faction of the ruling CPN (UML) have been trying to unseat him, but to no avail.
Although Oli has now been reduced to a caretaker Prime Minister, nothing has, however, stopped him from making arbitrary decisions to stay put in the government, infuriating the opposition forces even more. He now enjoys the support of a faction of the Janata Samajbadi Party to keep his government from collapsing. But constant intraparty bickering in the party led by Oli, whether united as the Nepal Communist Party, or now singly as the CPN (UML) has cost his party dear. On Saturday, Krishna Chandra Nepali Pokharel of the Nepali Congress replaced Prithvi Bahadur Subba Gurung of the CPN (UML) as the CM after the latter failed to win the vote of confidence in the Gandaki Provincial Assembly. There is a vertical division in Oli's party right down to the provincial and local levels, creating political uncertainty and hampering development activities.
Frustration runs high in the opposition forces as Oli tries running the affairs of the state and those of his party with highhandedness. A provincial lawmaker from Bagmati Province, Narottam Baidhya, even threatened to kill PM Oli while denouncing the expansion of the cabinet last week, an utterance that drew widespread condemnation. As political figures, it is demanded that decency be maintained in one's speech so as not to provoke violence, which the country has seen enough of over the past few decades.
The political turmoil comes at a time when the country is battling the more infectious second wave of the coronavirus, and it threatens to distract the government's attention from the pressing issue of vaccinating its entire eligible population. So far, the country has been able to immunise only about 5 per cent of the population with the second dose. Not only have the authorities not been able to secure the needed amount of vaccines, they are also clueless as to how to administer the second dose of the Covishield vaccine to 1.4 million people after India put a ban on its export after releasing the first consignment.
Let the intra and interparty hostility not spill out onto the streets and jeopardise the ongoing efforts to contain the virus.
Monsoon date revised
Analysing the rainfall data over 30 years, the Meteorological Forecasting Division (MFD) and South Asian Climate Outlook have set a new date for the onset and end of the monsoon in Nepal from this year onwards. As per the revised analysis, June 13 has been set as the date for the monsoon's onset and October 2 as the official end of the rainy season, which will, on average, last for 105 days. Until this revision, June 10 was the official date of the arrival of the monsoon in Nepal and September 23 was its official end.
It means, the official date of the arrival of the monsoon in Nepal has become delayed by three days. But this will no difference in paddy plantation.
At the same time, the Flood Forecasting Section of the MFD has issued a notice asking people to remain alert as the monsoon will become active across the country within a couple of days. Weathermen have also forecast heavy rainfall this year compared to the previous year. They have also warned that around 1.8 million people will be affected this year due to floods, landslides and inundation across the country. It will cause a double whammy to the people who are already affected by COVID-19. Taking precaution is better than making rescue efforts.
A version of this article appears in the print on June 14, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.