Nepal | July 16, 2020

EDITORIAL: Tread with caution

The Himalayan Times
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Prime Minister-elect Dahal faces daunting tasks given the political bitterness surrounding months of efforts leading to the change of guard

It is the second innings of chairman of the CPN-Maoist Centre Pushpa Kamal Dahal as Prime Minister after a hiatus of seven years. Dahal became the first PM after the first Constituent Assembly election in August 2008 and remained in office till May 4, 2009. He resigned after his attempt to sack the then Army Chief Rookmangad Katawal was opposed by then president Ram Baran Yadav.

He will, according to the seven-point agreement with the NC, remain in power for nine months during which he is supposed to hold the local elections in March/April, 2017 and then step down, most probably setting the stage for Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba return to power.

A Nepali Congress-led government is expected to organize the remaining elections for the provincial assemblies and the parliament in the second half.

Dahal, whose party controls 82 seats in the House, polled 363 votes out of the total 573 lawmakers present in the Legislature-Parliament. Madhesi parties, which command 37 of the 595 seats in the 601-member House, voted for Dahal following the signing of a three point agreement with Nepali Congress and the CPN-Maoist Centre today.

A total of 210 lawmakers from the CPN-UML, RPP-Nepal and three other fringe parties voted against Dahal. The deal includes providing compensation to those killed during the agitation, forming a probe commission to be headed by former Supreme Court justice to probe into “excessive use of force” during the agitation and making amendment to the constitution to address the Madhesi parties’ demands.

Dahal was the lone candidate in the race for premiership this time around as CPN-UML decided not to pit its contender to challenge the Maoist supremo.

Justifying his candidacy, Dahal vowed to implement the budget presented by the Oli led government in which his party was a major ally; address the demands raised by the Madhesi parties; handle the foreign policy in a balanced way; expedite the reconstruction work and give continuity to the development works initiated by the Oli government.

Prime Minister-elect Dahal faces daunting tasks given the political bitterness surrounding months of efforts leading to the change of guard. Some of the major challenges for the new government include making amendment to the new constitution on issues of citizenship, redrawing boundaries of the seven Pradeshes and redefining the representation on the basis of population in the Upper House.

These are the three major demands of the agitating Madhesi parties. It requires a two-thirds majority to make constitutional amendment which is not possible without winning confidence of the now main opposition, CPN-UML, and RPP-Nepal. It is, therefore, necessary for Dahal and his ally to reach out to the parties who opposed the new coalition.

Madhesi parties voted for Dahal because the Federal Democratic Alliance headed by Upendra Yadav and the United Democratic Madhesi Front are optimistic that their demands will be addressed. Some of the demands of the Madhesi parties will have far-reaching implications and therefore not likely to be met.

The two key constituents that have been leading agitation are expected to show flexibility on their demands – rigid posturing will not at all lead to an amicable solution that is need of the hour.

LPG bullets

A parliamentary panel has issued a directive not to stop the purchase of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) bullets  to the Ministry of Supplies (MoS) and Nepal Oil Corporation. NOC was recently instructed by the Ministry of Supplies to stop the process already started.

So far the country has been completely dependent on Indian transporters to ferry this commodity to the country. And the hardship faced owing to the lack of Nepali-owned bullets was particularly felt during the trade blockade.

What the panel is asking for are policies and programmes with priority to buying LPG bullets by Nepali entrepreneurs.

The panel also wants NOC to draft the required bylaw and implement it at the earliest. Customs tariff on the import of the LPG bullets had been reduced in the budget of 2016-17.

The NOC has already provided permits to some bottling plants in order to purchase the LPG bullets. Now about 53 gas bottlers have been seeking to buy 700 LPG bullets; however, 23 plants have been permitted to purchase 322 LPG bullets.

What is needed is better management for the transport and supply of the various  fuels. The MoS should immediately comply with the directive.

A version of this article appears in print on August 04, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.

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