EDITORIAL: New phase

The new government will have to rise to the occasion to meet public expectations. That means Oli’s government will have to start performing from the day one

CPN-UML Chairman KP Oli’s election to Prime Minister marks a new phase in nearly a decade of transitional politics in the country. The main part of the political transition has been completed with the promulgation of the Constitution of Nepal as made by the Constituent Assembly, and the remaining phase is that of creating the various structures and mechanisms and of making other preparations and holding the first elections to the local, provincial and central elections under the new constitution. According to the 7-point agreement made between the CPN-UML and the Nepali Congress 20 months ago and the gentleman’s agreement made between them during the signing of the 16-point agreement on June 8, Koirala cleared the way for the process of electing a new Prime Minister to begin. However, it so happened that he became a candidate for PM again, a decision that has not boosted the reputation of the Congress and its president.

The Congress will now sit in the opposition. In normal democratic practice, a strong opposition is regarded as necessary to make the democracy vibrant and to check the misuse of power by the ruling party or coalition. In that sense, the Congress decision should be viewed as a positive development. But during much of the transition period, consensus politics has ruled and coalition governments including the major parties have been in office, including that led by Sushil Koirala himself. Daunting challenges lie ahead on the way to implementing the constitution. The three major parties stood together and as a result it was possible to finalize and promulgate the constitution. Now too, it was the need of the hour for the three to remain together till the completion of the last task, which has been made more difficult by the protests and agitations by various groups, including the Madhes-based parties. The approaching Dashain festival has made quick and effective action to ease the situation even more urgent.

Oli has become the Chief Executive of the country in an extraordinarily difficult period. To steer the country through the troubled waters successfully, therefore, he will have to combine courage, vision, sense of accommodation, deft handling of foreign policy, and statesmanship, keeping uppermost in his mind the vital and long-term interests of the country. In this, the other partners of the coalition will also play a pivotal role and the demonstration of similar qualities by them is also required. The new government will have to rise to the occasion to meet the reasonable public expectations. That means his government will have to start performing from day one and the performance will have to be clearly visible. The acute crunch of the essential commodities, particularly of the petroleum products, will have to be removed very soon. Among the consequences of the breakup of the unity of the three major parties, the Congress might lose the post of President and Koirala personally may find himself at a disadvantage in more ways than one. But it would nevertheless be a sensible policy for both the ruling and opposition parties to work together as far as implementing the constitution is concerned.

Running for a cause

Those suffering from mental illness are often stigmatized by society at large and also discriminated. A significant proportion of the population from all over the world suffer from this disease in one form or the other. Yet, it seems that not much is being done to ease their plight and suffering. Thus, the 9th Kathmandu Marathon Competition was held in Kathmandu Saturday in order to raise awareness about this often debilitating  disease. The turnout was impressive with many runners participating representing Chhahari Nepal to generate awareness about mental illnesses and its importance.

Mental illness could do a lot with the publicity considering that people often tend to hide the disease. Most of the mental diseases can be treated, however, some suffer with the disease in a chronic manner. Nepal lacks sufficient psychiatrists and there is only one mental hospital in the country. It seems that this disease has not been given the priority it deserves. However, the quality of life of many patients can be improved provided they are given care. Treatment of mental diseases should be available for needy since many are handicapped they should be given medicines for free as they are unable to work for a living.