Nepal | December 08, 2019

EDITORIAL: Tussle of titans

The Himalayan Times

It is already too much the country has suffered as a result of senseless quarrel over protocol between two DPMs in Dahal cabinet

There has been too much fuss over a not very important matter between two deputy prime ministers – Kamal Thapa of the Rastriya Prajatantra Party and Bimelandra Nidhi of the Nepali Congress – over the question of seniority in Cabinet ranking.

This row has been dirty linen washed in public, which has not sent positive signals both domestically and internationally. This seniority row was displayed in its inglorious forms at the airport recently, while welcoming the PM back from his week-long China visit and during his press conference there.

But more serious is its harmful impact — it has held the country hostage as the Cabinet has not been able to sit for about three weeks (since March 16), while at least two Cabinet meetings take place every week at normal times.

This means that a number of important decisions have been left undecided, causing losses of various forms. One of the most important decisions is the failure to appoint a new Inspector General of Police despite the upcoming local level elections slated for May 14 as per the Supreme Court orders.

This row should not have happened in the first place. The dispute arose after Kamal Thapa was made DPM in order to keep the parliamentary majority of the present coalition secure.

Prime Minister Dahal and Congress president Sher Bahadur Deuba must have agreed to certain terms under which Thapa accepted a portfolio in the present government. As has been widely reported in the media, both Dahal and Deuba had agreed to give Thapa seniority in Cabinet just after the Prime Minister.

Logically, Thapa, who was a deputy prime minister in the Oli Cabinet, must have made this seniority issue one of his conditions for joining the Dahal-led government. The dispute flared up after DPM Nidhi claimed the Number Two status on the grounds that he represented the largest party in the coalition. Each DPM may have his own logic to support his claim.

But it is Dahal and Deuba who should have sorted out the issue immediately after the row erupted, though unable to prevent it. But they have maintained a type of total public silence on this matter which does not behoove them.

It is already too much the country has suffered as a result of this senseless quarrel. But the matter should be resolved without further delay by the stakeholders concerned – Dahal, Deuba, Thapa and Nidhi. And Prime Minister Dahal should take the initiative seriously. Postponing the cabinet meeting will not resolve the problem by itself.

Consultations and discussions should be held and a consensus should be reached, freeing the Cabinet from the prison of indecision. Is it imaginable that a Cabinet cannot sit just because two DPMs are fighting over protocol? For the first time in history, a prime minister’s foreign visit took place without the Cabinet meeting to endorse it.

Neither was any DPM given the charge of looking after the Prime Minister’s responsibilities during PM Dahal’s China visit, also for the first time. Nidhi has threatened to quit the Cabinet post if his claim is not accepted, so may DPM Thapa if Nidhi is put ahead of him in protocol?

This difficulty aside, the row must be put to rest and very soon and the Cabinet enabled to resume its business as usual.

Noise pollution

Come Nepali New Year 2074 B.S. (April 14), motorists will be barred from honking horns in the Kathmandu Valley in a bid to control noise pollution. The government is all set to impose a ban on using horn in the Valley from that day.

The officials have said none of the private or public vehicles will be allowed to honk the horn. This measure was taken after the government received a lot of complaints from residents and pedestrians about unnecessary use of the horn by drivers.

Previously, such a ban was imposed on school and hospital areas.

If this measure is applied strictly the noise pollution in the Valley will come down substantially. If anyone is found guilty of honking the horn, it will be seized or fined up to Rs. 5000, according to a traffic rule.

But ambulances, firefighters, hearses and vehicles used by security personnel will be exempted from this ban. Doctors have said that noise level above 100 db is harmful to human ears. It is equally essential to give an orientation to new license seekers warning against honking horns unless it is extremely urgent.

Noise pollution is one of the serious health problems which did not get government attention till date.

A version of this article appears in print on April 05, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.

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