Regmi and November Polls

We cannot also copy their recent welfare scheme to provide 800 million poor Indians with highly subsidized food grains, at Rs 3, 2 and 1 for a kg of rice wheat and millet, respectively, but a humble beginning can be made, be it on the water managemen

July 14, 2013, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol: 07 No. -3 July 12- 2013 (Ashad 28, 2070)

After lots of criticism from every corner for not being able to announce a poll date even three months after the formation of the election government, the Regmi-led government, also tired of inter and intra party squabbles on election issues, finally made a declaration on June13 that CA polls will be held on November 19.Issues related to threshold and declaration of property details by a candidate were conveniently dropped in the ordinance.Expectedly,big four political forces welcomed the announcement but CPN(Maoist) led alliance of fringe parties opposed it, alleging that the decision was taken without their consensus. These parties have been launching agitation programmes of varying nature and scale since then. This announcement was something to rejoice over and celebrate by the government, which highlighted the announcement of the date for holding new CA polls as its major achievement in the past hundred days.UCPN Maoist and UMl were little bit critical of the way state affairs were handled by the government in the past hundred days, accusing it also of failing to create a conducive environment for holding polls, despite the date announcement. These parties, however, should not expect much of this government created by them mainly for holding polls. Moreover, their perennial differences have never been very helpful, grumbles Regmi occasionally, in discharge of responsibilities by this dispensation. Happiness emanating from announcement of polls date is slowly fading away as the Maoist Party led by Kiran is adamant to boycott and disrupt November polls. Responding to the decision of the High Level Committee to hold a round table conference as demanded by CPN Maoist,the party has constituted a five-member team headed by Kiran,keeping intact its stance on poll deferral, government change and agitation against November polls. It would be unwise to be optimistic about the outcome of the talk because they have not deviated much from the party’s central committee decision in Pokhara that approved Kiran’s proposal of boycotting the polls. Other political parties that have not completely shivered their working relationship with Kiran, have differed with him on the question of participation in the polls but have their own concerns to be addressed if their effective participation is to be achieved on November 19.Baidya’s threat cannot be lightly brushed aside because he has the solid backing of his party, which has the capability to politically face its opponents and also muscularly foil events organized without taking his party into confidence.  Disturbing are also the  reservations of political parties on the code of conduct proposed by the Election Commission for the coming CA polls and their sharp division on the basis for constituency delineations for the  polls. While some leaders maintain that number of electoral constituencies should be increased in proportion to the increase in population in a region, others want geography, population and administrative access to be the basis of constituency delineation. In addition to these inter-party differences, there are intra-party differences, the most notable one being in case of UCPN (Maoist) where Baburam Bhattari has resigned following differences over the appointment of party office bearers and central committee members. Failing to persuade Bhattari to withdraw his resignation, the party has decided to call the extended meeting of the party on July 19.Things are not very smooth even in UML despite the fact that influential leader Oli and his followers have backtracked a bit on their demand for a special general convention of the party, which had convulsed the party a while ago.Intra party wrangling have remained an integral part of Nepali Congress since long and will continue to remain so in future. These disturbing activities have confused people and inclined to believe that polls will not be held in November. Polls have not taken place on the pronounced time in the past and those failures did not shake then governments but the situation now is different because tremendous moral pressure will pile on the election government if it fails to organize polls this time. This government has also the task of bringing out the annual budget at a very difficult time of low growth, double digit inflation, unprecedented trade deficit running at 26 percent of gdp and export/import ratio at 13  percent.Regmi is not expected to cure the ailment that our economy is suffering since long and does not have to worry much about it because none of his predecessors and finance ministers succeeded in doing so in the past.Moreover,he can derive some solace from the troublesome economies of Portugal and Greece that are still in a mess despite tremendous efforts of the respective governments and international bodies to solve the problem. Economic ailment has spread very fast across Europe and appears incurable in the once very prosperous continent. International Monetary Fund has also made downward adjustments in its earlier estimates of global growth for this year and the next.Regmi can also conveniently brush aside Transparency International’s very recent accusation that political parties in Nepal are the most corrupt institutions as he does not belong to any party and what can he do to check accelerating corruption in this poor country when it is on the rise globally.

The election government also dealt with the exigencies of flood, despite initial hiccups, in Far- West and some parts of Mid-West Nepal that suffered much in the form of loss to lives, property and infrastructure. Since this misfortune befalls here every year, let us seriously think about managing the abundant water of this country so that drinking water can be provided to thirsty Nepalis, water can be given to crops that mostly depend on rains from the sky, power can be generated to cut excessive hours of outage and damage done by flood to crops, lives and property can be checked. Confronting natural calamities in the same manner and fashion that India did in Uttarakhand, launching the biggest ever operation to battle the calamity also known as the Himalayan Tsunami that has claimed more than 4000 lives, is not possible nor required here. We cannot also copy their recent welfare scheme to provide 800 million poor Indians with highly subsidized food grains, at Rs 3, 2 and 1 for a kg of rice wheat and millet, respectively, but a humble beginning can be made, be it on the water management front or providing subsidy to the poor and underprivileged areas such as mid and far-west Nepal where dozens of death related to starvation and cholera are reported every year. Regmi looks serious about his main job, election, and has been dealing with   groups wanting to freely sell impure drinking water, contaminated milk and tempered with gas cylinders with varying degree of success. He should also be happy that people like him are being picked to assume specific responsibilities elsewhere also. A very recent example has been the move of Egyptian armed force that ousted Morsi,elected president, and appointed chief justice of constitutional court there as the interim president, following days of uprising against the president. Egyptian army dashed Justice Mansur into the chaotic situation to handle the deteriorating political situation, which shows no signs of recovery as battles are on between opponents and supporters of Morsi and scores of agitating Islamists have been killed and hundreds injured when the army opened fire. Nobody can speak with certainty whether he will be able to take graceful exit in the highly unstable Egypt where his plans for holding polls have been rejected. In Nepal, Regmi was persuaded into accepting the new job by big parties, probably on the advice of external forces, but nobody knows how our leaders will help a docile Regmi take a dignified exit if he fails to hold polls in November. Regmi and Mansour of Egypt need blessings of our much revered Lord Pashupatinath and Allah, respectively.

Dr. Tilak Rawal

Dr. Tilak Rawal

Dr. Rawal is former governor of NRB.

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