News Digest – Domestic Politics & Governance (November 5 – 11)

Democracy & Governance, News Digest 0 Comments

Domestic Politics

Nepal Communist Party (NCP): The NCP dispute reached a new height, with PM Oli facing a moral and psychological pressure from the Dahal-Nepal faction. However, he stated that he will not step down as the prime minister no matter what. According to Krishna Pokharel, a political analyst, a party decision will not be enough to force Oli out; there has to be a majority in the parliamentary party for that.

Amidst the ongoing crisis in the party, PM Oli initiated a discussion on ‘People’s Multiparty Democracy,’ the ideological standpoint of his erstwhile NCP–Unified Marxist Leninist. Through a virtual meeting with leaders and party workers from Province 1, Oli claimed that the ideology will regain relevance after the party’s general convention.

On November 5, PM Oli met his fellow party chair Dahal in Baluwatar, where the two leaders were largely engaged in claims and counter-claims against each other; while the former accused the latter of continuously holding factional talks and obstructing the government’s work, Dahal restated his grievances about Oli’s unilaterality and his recent preparations to revive ‘People’s Multiparty Democracy’ and his old party.

At an ‘informal’ secretariat meeting called by Dahal on November 6, he briefed the leaders that calling “a ‘formal’ secretariat meeting without Oli’s consent would mean a declaration of party split.”

Senior leader Madhav Nepal warned that people will not spare the ‘culprits’ who talk about party split. He also stressed that the old NCP–UML is on more and that everyone, including PM Oli, should respect party procedures and decisions of NCP.

While the Dahal-Nepal faction warn to let the majority decide if there is no consensus to hold secretariat meeting, Oli expressed his readiness to implement the standing committee decisions.

Exhausting most options to maintain his dominance in the party and the government, Oli tried to forge an alliance with senior leader Nepal by proposing him two options for the future—the party chief or the prime minister. However, Nepal reminded Oli that the party was not made by one person but with the hard work of several leaders, party workers, and the public and restated that the PM should take responsibility of his actions and improve his working methods.

Prime minister and party co-chair Oli instructed general secretary to call secretariat meeting according to party procedures, within the next 15 days. Although Oli was responding to a letter written to him by the five leaders of the Dahal-Nepal faction, Dahal retorted that they were not looking for a permission to hold the meeting but rather an agreement to move forward. On the same account, the Dahal-Nepal faction concluded that they would move forward with an ‘official’ secretariat meeting if Oli did not agree for the same by Tuesday.

Nepali Congress (NC): Nepali Congress saw a renewed conflict about the dates of its upcoming generation convention; while the establishment Deuba faction and Krishna Prasad Sitaula agree to postpone the convention, senior leader Ram Chandra Poudel and those close to him are not ready to postpone it. The party handed over the responsibility of settling the dispute to Shashanka Koirala and Purna Bahadur Khadka, its two general secretaries.

In an interview, leader Shekhar Koirala clarified that he was not a candidate for the party’s vice president or secretary but rather of its president. He also reminded that he wanted to be the party’s president for only one term.

Nepali Congress has failed to fulfill its role of an opposition; neither it worked sufficiently to make the government accountable nor did it raise important issues on the behalf of general public. Instead, the party was busy either negotiating settlements with the ruling party or managing its internal power struggle.

Miscellaneous: The government recently decided to remove “Federal Democratic Republic” from Nepal’s official name and call it simply “Nepal.” Experts argue that the move is ‘unconstitutional and against the spirit of federalism.’ JSPN leader Upendra Yadav warned of a protest if the government does not reverse its decision.

Although the traditional political parties have been struggling, giving a space for alternative forces, no new forces have been able to capitalize on the situation; According to experts, these ‘alternative parties’ have not been able to win people’s trust or establish their ideological distinctiveness.

Although its leaders put the blame on the COVID-19 pandemic, the Janata Samajwadi Party Nepal (JSPN)’s failure to make necessary party adjustments stems from leaders’ lack of consensus on their roles.  

Governance

The government suffered a heavy criticism for not showing any regard for Supreme Court orders, be it regarding free tests and treatment of COVID-19 patients or the National Human Rights Commission’s direction about prisoners’ management during the pandemic. The Supreme Court disapproved the government’s request to re-evaluate SC’s earlier decision and established that the government should conduct free tests and treatment of COVID-19 patients.

A report by the government’s taskforce indicated that the country suffered a heavy loss of NRs. 200 billion in its total GDP. About 1.6 million people lost their jobs, while 1.2 million were forced into poverty.

Health workers of Bir Hospital continue to protest daily for an hour daily, demanding sufficient protective resources as well as COVID-19 bonuses.

Some 35 Megawatt of hydroelectricity produced by small and medium hydroelectricity producers is going to waste because Nepal Electricity Authority has not built transmission lines as per the agreement.

The Ministry of Federal Affairs instructed local governments to not sign any ‘sister city agreement’ with foreign cities without the approval of the federal government because it may compromise the country’s foreign policy.

The Supreme Court ordered government officials to not implement the new grade 11 curricula because education largely comes under the jurisdiction of local governments, and the federal government should not be intervening.

Two months after the communication between the prime ministers, where Bangladesh seemed positive about lending Nepal fertilizers, there was no progress. Therefore, the government has now begun the G2G process of purchasing fertilizers from Bangladesh.

Once again, sugarcane farmers from Terai came to Kathmandu to put pressure on the government and seek their payments from Sugar industries in Rautahat. Last year in December, when the farmers protested, the industrialists had forged an agreement with the government to pay the dues within a month. However, they never kept their promises and still owe the farmers some NRs. 300 million.

After the widespread criticism and the Supreme Court decision, the government finally decided to make COVID-19 tests and treatments free. The government also removed the 10% tax on books import.

After the direction from the Ministry of Finance, insurance companies have accelerated insurance payments to COVID-19 patients. In three days alone, they paid to some 1200 people, compared to 1400 payments within the last six months.

In the midst of the ongoing pandemic, the government has begun its preparations to reopen schools, which some suggest are highly irresponsible of the government to put children at risk.

Prime Minister Oli went to Sankhuwasabha’s Kimathanka on a field visit to inspect security of the border region, observe the ARUN III hydropower project, and assess the possibility of international trade through the region.

Bijay Prakash Mishra who released the audio tape of former minister Gokul Prasad Baskota has alleged that Prime Minister Oli was involved in the irregularity related to the security printing press purchase.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *