Toughness Required

The four parties having more or less surrendered, Regmi now has to act tough and take appropriate decisions on election related matters without wasting much time. If he concludes that disruptive and conspiratorial forces would not allow his governmen

June 16, 2013, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol: 07 No. -1 June 14- 2013 (Jestha 31, 2070)

Even those who were against providing one more extension to then CA must have realized by now that letting it die an inauspicious death on 28 May was a mistake in that its demise opened a new basket    of disputes, which would not arise had the body been kept alive to do some more work on the new constitution. Disputes related to threshold for slots in CA under the proportional representation system, number of CA members, barring people with criminal records from contesting election and declaring assets by a candidate prior to the poll are the issues taking too much time of our leaders. Unless these issues are resolved, the ordinance on election cannot be passed to hold the much –awaited polls. Even leader of the current dispensation Mr. Regmi must be feeling little uneasy that his verdict, which clearly favored new polls to time extension, greatly helped pave way for the sad demise of CA and pushed the nation into a mess that we all are experiencing today. Note worthy in this context would be the far-sighted verdict of Justice Balram KC, now retired, which attached paramount importance to constitution preparation and gave not much weight to the time taken to perform the task. Justice KC, it seems, had very well visualized the chaotic situation the nation would get into post CA dissolution.  There was no dearth of people disagreeing with and even ridiculing KC’s verdict that many thought had further encouraged CA members not to be serious in their work, which would lead to further waste of resources garnered by the state.  However, people abound now, both within and outside of the apex court, to admire the momentous verdict. In fact, not only CA members but many others were in favour of keeping it alive resorting to different ways and means such as cutting perks and allowances of members, reducing the size of CA and whatever else was required to keep it breathing. Basically, Regmi’s verdict from the apex court stood as the major impediment to time extension, according to those involved in negotiation prior to its dissolution. As far as new polls are concerned, the EC seems to be moving ahead satisfactorily leaving not much in its court to perform as it has sent the ordinance (election laws) to the government for necessary further work on it and also recommended November 14 as the date for holding new CA polls. Understanding people’s desperation to take part in the fresh polls, EC has timely proposed this day of November beyond which, it says, polls in sixteen mountain districts would not be possible due to snowfall.Khil Raj seems to be getting increasingly skeptical about the possibility of holding polls even in November as he has started issuing deadlines to leaders to forge consensus on contentious issues. His first ever ultimatum to leaders expired on 7 June without seeing progress and was renewed for two more days on 8 June more or less in line with numerous and meaningless deadlines that President Ram Baran had issued in the past. Interestingly, President Ram Baran has also started meeting party leaders urging them to forge consensus soon. The two deadline issuing authorities, however, should keep in mind that only one of them should do the issuing/renewing job to avoid duplication of efforts and also not to confuse people of this impoverished nation.

With double digit inflation, low growth and hopeless external sector, our economy seems to be heading towards further deterioration. Baring encouraging performance in revenue collection, which is continuing ever since Dr. Baburam Bhattari became finance minister under Prachanda, no other economic fundamentals have shown an encouraging trend. Continuing depreciation of our currency against American dollars is likely to further fuel the already pinching level of inflation.Further, a paradoxical situation of low capital expenditure and swelling government reserves with the central bank(currently standing at RS.58.30 billion) exists in the country today, clearly manifesting that it is the inability of the public sector to spend rather than inadequacy of resources that is hindering growth in recent years of one of the poorest nations in the world. There are problems all over the world: growth is slowing down both in China and India and sick EU is experiencing the highest level of unemployment ever. Recent floods have inflicted serious injury on the ailing economies of many Central European countries. Battle is on since long to correct the economic woes and repair the damage caused by the flood there. In our case, Prachanda did talk about getting support from both China and India to harness the vast water resources of this country and let us hope NC senior leader Deuba, who has embarked upon a trip to India, does some more concrete work along this line. Unless our leaders learn to talk aid, trade and economic cooperation in the greater national interest and not channelize their efforts merely to fulfill their personal and party interest, the economy of this tiny Himalayan nation is not going to take a positive turn.  Time has come for us to freely seek assistance from China and India that have increased economic cooperation between them very significantly as is adequately demonstrated by increasing bilateral trade that reached dollar 66 billion last year. It may be noted that Chinese Premier Li Keqiang chose India for his first official visit and observed that the two nations, accounting for 40 percent of the world population, could be a new engine of global growth if they could avoid fiction along the militarized border. Some breakthroughs on trade were also reported.Likewise, newly elected Chinese President Xi and US President Obama had their summit in California where the two spent several hours at a stretch to discuss North Korea’s nuclear ambition, suspected Chinese cyber attacks, climate change and trade. Noting the serious US concern on cyber attack, President Xi demanded that US restrictions on high-tech export to China be loosened and Chinese investing in the US be given equal treatment. In a friendly environment, the two leaders raised global as well as issues of their national interest. Our leaders should waste not much time in initiating tripartite projects involving China, India and Nepal, be it in developing Lumbini or harnessing water resources of this country. Our two giant neighbours will have to be generous and magnanimous in dealing with us. Chairman Khil Raj, however, does not have to bother about economic matters because he is mandated just to hold polls, which may not be possible even in November, looking at the inconclusive talks of top leaders.The four parties having more or less surrendered, Regmi now has to act tough and take appropriate decisions on election related matters without wasting much time. If he concludes that disruptive and conspiratorial forces would not allow his government to organize polls in November, he should gracefully take an exit well before it and also not commit the blunder of walking into his old office nearby. This way he can save his image from getting seriously tainted.

Dr. Tilak Rawal

Dr. Tilak Rawal

Dr. Rawal is former governor of NRB.

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