Government's Honeymoon

Retired, Not Tired

June 28, 2013, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol: 07 No. -2 June 28- 2013 (Ashad 14, 2070)

Constituted under a political pact among the four parties, the retired secretaries-dominated government led by chief justice Khil Raj Regmi has completed its honeymoon days

Elections or no elections, order or no order, there seems to be no alternative to Chief Justice Khil Raj Regmi's government of retired secretaries. The government, which was constituted with the single agenda of holding the elections, has now presented a 65-point agenda of achievements in its hundred days in office.

As the legitimacy of this government lies on the 11-point agreement signed by the four major parties, Nepali Congress, UCPN-Maoist, CPN-UML and Samykta Loktantrik Mukti Morcha (SLMM), it does not have to face any crisis even if it fails to hold the elections.

After the announcement of the election date of November 19, 2013 for the second Constituent Assembly, the election government led by Regmi also engaged in the transfer of civil servants. In its first hundred days, it has already transferred high level civil servants three times, that is, every 33 days, shaming the civil service which is supposed to hold the CA elections in November.

Transfer of Secretaries

In its third major overhaul in the bureaucracy, the government transferred six secretaries. Secretary at the Ministry of Science Technology and Environment Keshab Prasad Bhattarai has been transferred to secretary at the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority. Secretary at the Ministry of Education Som Lal Subedi has been transferred to the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment.

The secretary at the Election Commission (EC) Narayan Gopal Malego has been transferred to the MoE. Atmaram Pandey, previously the Mid-Western Regional administrator, has been transferred to the Ministry of Defense (MoD). Likewise, Secretary at the Auditor General’s Office (AGO), Narendra Dahal, has been transferred to the EC. The Central Regional administrator, Uddav Banskota, has been transferred to the AGO.  A week ago, the government transferred seven secretaries and 10 DIGs of the Nepal Police.

"I don't understand how this government can hold the elections when it is busy in transferring the secretaries and other civil servants. The government should focus its attention on holding elections rather than transferring the employees," said CPN-UML leader Shanker Pokharel.

Elections Tempo

With the announcement of the elections date and publication of the elections program by the Election Commission, four major political parties have already kicked off their election campaigns. The mood is yet to grip the nation since 33 political parties under the leadership of CPN-Maoist are still staying away from the elections process. It is not clear whether the election will be held or not. CPN-Maoist leader Mohan Vaidya revealed that his front is likely to hold talks only after the government postpones the Election Day schedule targeting November polls. Leader of Madheshi Janadhikar Forum Upendra Yadav and leader of Federal Socialist Party Ashok Rai back Maoist leader Mohan Vaidya's stand.  Even some powerful leaders of Nepali Congress and CPN-UML are saying that holding the elections is meaningless without the participation of three major parties CPN-Maoist, Madheshi Janaadhikar Forum and Federal Socialist Party.  After his visit to India, former prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba is holding talks with CPN-Maoist Vaidya, Yadav and Rai urging them to take part in the elections. Chief election commissioner Nil Kantha Uprety warned that postponement of the election date is likely to cause a huge financial and logistic loss, indicating the possibility of postponement of elections at the last minute.

Former King's Visit

At a time when republican Nepal's first president Dr. Ram Baran Yadav is lying in a hospital bed of Tokyo and Madhesh based parties are claiming that they are the messiah of the Madhesh, former King Gyanendra completed his trip to eight districts of in the heartland of the southern plains. Although the gathering of the people was reportedly large, it was unlikely to make any immediate political implication in the national politics.

Likely Scenario

Given the current political scenario and negotiations with CPN-Maoist and other two parties, it is likely that the elections may be postponed at the last minute. As there is uncertainty, election campaigns won’t reach the grass root level. As there is no provision to change the present government without amending the 11-point agreement, there is no immediate threat to the incumbent government. The transfer of the secretaries and joint secretaries, however, is likely to destabilize the civil service and land the government in a political controversy.

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