UCPN Maoist leader Baburam Bhattarai finally succeeded in becoming the Prime Minister of this country by defeating Ramchandra Poudyal, Nepali Congress candidate, to lead the majority government, with the support of Madhesh-based parties that signed a four-point deal prior to the government’s formation with the Maoists. Baburam’s wish to lead a national unity government could not materialize as senior leader Deuba, NC’s choice to head the consensus government, did not budge an inch from the position taken.
With both NC and Maoist refusing to abandon their respective stances and UML indecisive as in the past, unity government could not be formed in the 10 days period (7+3) given by the president. Confusion still abounds in the country and intra and inter-party wrangling has utterly frustrated hard-hit commoners that had pinned great hopes on Bhattarai as far as work on peace and constitution and relief to them is concerned. Prime Minister Bhattarai has also backtracked on his promises to have substantial task on peace and constitution which he declared to accomplish within 45 days of assumption of power and not to transfer any senior government official before 30 days. Prabhu Sah, who was accused of complicity in a murder case, and defense minister Sharat Singh Bhandari for his alleged secessionist remarks, are the two ministers whose dismissal is demanded by people and parties protesting in nook and corner of the country as well as in the parliament. Opposition parties have continued to block business even after Sah’s resignation. Bhattarai must have realized by now that it does not take long for a politician to slide down the ladder of popularity. Parties have demanded dismissal of both the ministers as well as scrapping/review of the four-point deal on the strength of which the Bhattarai’s government was created.
A strong section of UCPN Maoist led by influential leader Kiran has left behind UML party in organizing protest programmes that included burning of effigy of defense minister Bhandari at several points in the country. Is Bhattarai going to be no different from his predecessors who did anything and everything to ascend to power and continued to make lots of compromises thereafter to continue in power? This is the question Nepalese commoners are asking themselves these days. The Prime Minister must be aware that very powerful nations and financial institutions have been downgraded by global credit rating agency in terms of their credit worthiness and watchful sovereign people do the rating of leaders at the appropriate occasion without wasting time. It is high time that prime minister gave serious thought to this aspect especially in view of the fact that he is working hand in glove with people that have tarnished images and doubtful credentials.
Well educated Dr. Baburam must be aware that China has already replaced Japan as the second largest economy and Indian prime minister Dr.Singh recently spoke of the likelihood of India replacing Japan as the third largest economy by 2025.With a stagnating economy and natural calamities inflicting serious injury time and again on the nation, Japan could be replaced by India much earlier than what Singh has predicted. India and China are engaged in tough rivalry to attain higher level of economic prosperity for their respective nations and the peoples. Some growth watchers predict that India’s growth will exceed that of China by 2013\14. Hope our Prime Minister succeeds in convincing his Indian counterpart during his visit that they need to be very generous and magnanimous in helping Nepal solve its economic and political problems. Inflation in recent times is giving headache to Chinese authorities and they tend to be slowly doing away with its heavy dependence for growth on exports. Notwithstanding these problems, China has acquired so much strength and stability on the economic front that discussions on prospects of RMB, Chinese currency, emerging as the global reserve currency are gaining momentum these days. Talking of growth in these two countries people often talk of miraculous achievements of some provinces/states, the credit for which goes to political leadership at the state level. It is said Gujarat province could play the role of industrial locomotive for India as Guangdong province did for China in the 1990s. The unparallel achievements on the economic front in Gujarat stop even political critics of Mr. Modi, chief minister of the state since 2001, from hurling serious accusations at him. Enviable record on the economy has been created also in Bihar, the most backward state in India, where a remarkable growth of 11 percent has been achieved in recent times. Law and order situation has also improved a lot in Bihar, famous until recently for notorious acts of gangsters and dacoits. Investors, look for less cumbersome labour laws, pliable roads, reliable electricity and a functioning bureaucracy. These are prerequisites to investment inflow. Small wonder Nepal is among the 5 countries that receive the lowest quantum of foreign direct investment in the world today. What has been achieved in Bihar could be achieved in Madhesh of Nepal because the two areas of these two countries have many things in common that includes geography and culture. The only thing our part lacks is selfless, dedicated leaders. Nobody is expecting our current prime minister to do what has been done in some parts of India because it is neither his priority nor has he time for such things that require dedicated efforts over a reasonable period of time. The worry is Bhattarai, contrary to expectations, looks no different from his predecessors who could not provide even an iota of relief to people. During Dashain people had to pay more for rice, mutton and transportation this time also. Toxic gas emanating from mounds of garbage lying uncollected for days on either side of roads at major city points was another notable feature of Dashain. Low income pedestrians had no choice but to inhale the foul gas made available in abundance for free. What can be really expected of a government that failed to provide relief to people during Dashain and could not even organize collection of garbage during that period? Even minor positive actions on the part of government during that period could have made the difference. No positive symptoms are visible on the peace and constitution writing front, too as serious misunderstandings within and between parties continue to persist. Senior leader of NC Deuba is likely to organize a meeting of district presidents of NC to discuss injustice meted out to him and his followers. With political uncertainty and confusion likely to continue, Bhattarai may soon come under intense pressure from opposition and his own party to step down and will have no option but to resign little before or after 3 months in office, admitting failure, like ex-pm Khanal, to expedite peace and constitution writing process.
Dr. Rawal is CA member and former Governor of NRB