Nepal | July 13, 2020

EDITORIAL: Road ahead

The Himalayan Times
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No matter how strong a government is, it must follow the constitution, rule of law and democratic processes

CPN-UML Chairman KP Oli secured 208 votes in the 275-strong Parliament on Sunday, establishing himself as the most powerful prime minister in the country in the last 27 years. Oli, who had the backing of 121 lawmakers from his party UML and 52 lawmakers from the CPN-Maoist Centre, also won support from the Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum-Nepal (SSF-N), Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal (RJP-N), two fringe parties and one independent lawmaker. As PM Oli has won the vote of confidence with more than a two-thirds majority in the House, he and his Cabinet now should start delivering on the promises his party the UML and the CPN-MC, which fought the elections under the left alliance, had made from the hustings. The two parties won the parliamentary elections held on November 26 and December 7 with the slogan “stability for prosperity”.

“Stability for prosperity” as a slogan as a matter of fact seems to have struck the right chord with the voters, given Nepal’s history since the restoration of democracy in 1990. Political instability has been the order of the day in the last 28 years, which in general is believed to have been the cause of all ills in the country. So, PM Oli now has the mandate to govern the country for a full-five year term, something which has not happened since 1990. And the backing of more than two-thirds lawmakers in the House is but an icing in the cake for PM Oli. Nonetheless, some developments since Oli was appointed the prime minister on February 15 do bring some pressing questions to the fore.

The UML and its ally CPN-MC together had won a comfortable majority to run the government. But PM Oli reached out to the SSF-N and RJP-N for their support. These two parties with their bases in the Madhes region have long been pressing for an amendment to the constitution, an issue which had made Oli their adversary—or vice versa. The SSF-N and the RJP-N decided to back PM Oli following his assurance to amend the constitution on the basis of “necessity and rationale”. There is no denying that Oli was trying to lead a two-thirds majority government. Not long before passing the floor test, PM Oli decided to bring some state agencies—Social Welfare Council, Department of Revenue Investigation, Department of Anti-money Laundering and National Investigation Department–under the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). The move is clearly aimed at making Oli an all-powerful prime minister in the country’s modern history. Oli has tried to justify this decision by vowing “not to indulge in corruption and not letting anyone commit corruption”. But there is a risk: concentration of powers at once centre could make it handicap. And there are concerns that a mighty prime minister could ignore the presence of the opposition. No matter how strong a government is, it must follow the constitution, rule of law and democratic processes, which together shape a just society. The government which has promised “rapid development and economic prosperity” must make sure that it takes all forces, including the opposition, into confidence. For now, we would like to wish a successful tenure for PM Oli.

Saving resources

Diktel Rupakot Majhuwangdi Municipality has imposed a ban on illegal extraction of sand, boulder and gravel from Bagarebhanjyang of Khotang. Similarly, authorities have cut off power supply to crusher and sand-washing industries that were operating illegally in Dhading. Municipality officials in Khotang said they imposed the ban on extraction of construction materials after finding out that they were being extracted illegally from Giddhe Rupakot Community Forest at Nerpa and Dandakharka Khisapatre Community Forest in Kharmi for the black-topping of Diktel-Chakhewabhanjyang road-section. Similarly, authorities in Dhading said as many as 29 crusher industries and 56 sand-washing industries were operating illegally in the district.

The moves are praiseworthy. Such illegal industries cause revenue loss to the state exchequer. More than that, they degrade our environment. Uncontrolled extractions of natural resources from the forests directly affect the trees and wildlife. They also adversely impact the habitat of micro-organisms. There is a need to regulate industries involved in extraction of natural resources. We have to find ways to utilise natural resources in a sustainable manner.

A version of this article appears in print on March 13, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.

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