Oli must devote the rest of his tenure to two crucial areas of penance and damage control
By Bihari K. Shrestha
PM Oli’s more than an hour-long delivery of his two year achievements have left the nation unimpressed, and anxious that worse may be in store in the days ahead under his leadership. While he tried to portray the success of his government by bringing in sundry achievements such as Nepal attaining the second position in medal haul in the last South Asian Games held in Kathmandu, he cut a very sorry figure when it came to major areas of concern for the people. For instance, when he reiterated his commitment about zero tolerance against corruption, people found him more a shameless hypocrite with the albatross of serious cases of fraud like Yeti Holding scandal or the reported “Wide body bhagbanda” around his neck. Besides he simply chose to turn blind eye towards the massive corruption taking place in the local bodies all across the country that has largely been the result of his own doing. At this point he must remind himself that it was he who in 2015 in utter haste to become the next PM had ramrod the passage of the new Constitution without even opening the result of nationwide consultation that had strongly opined against federalizing the country. The poorly educated and ill-educated politicos in the then constituent assembly failed to realize that Nepal’s geographic and socio-economic makeup precluded the parceling the country into federal provinces. To be sure, there has never been a Telengana in Nepal, a province that fought for a separate statehood from day one of India’s independence. The problem with Oli’s federalization is that the number of local bodies has been drastically curtailed to 753 from some 3500 of them that existed earlier. This means that what figurative Singha Durbar was already there in the villages has since been taken farther away. Its disastrous consequence has been that the politicians in those local bodies are not much more distant from the electors and therefore, reduced pressure to remain accountable to the latter. Hence this all-out corruption all across the country.
Another major issue conspicuously lacking in reference has been his flagship slogan of Prosperous Nepal Happy Nepalis. While this remains a very worthwhile national goal, it has been a dishonest enterprise on Mr. Oli’s part all along. Although he has surrounded himself with his party ticket holders as members of the national planning commission, the superfluous Niti Ayog and other sycophants masquerading as his economic advisors, he never found it necessary to have them work on this project. This slogan has been something he had bragged about even in his meeting with international leaders. Clearly, he not only seemed unashamed at being seen as a liar, nationally and internationally, he also brought disgrace to the Nepal as a nation at the world stage. While he did brag about Nepal’s relatively high growth rates of recent times in his speech, he was being oblivious of the fact that they do not necessarily mean increased and shared prosperity for the people. All he needs to do is to take a look at India to our south. The country has been touted as the “fastest growing major economy” in the world for many years until recently, but the country continues to remain “home to world poverty” with a massive segment of people suffering from grinding poverty endlessly. The massive joblessness that Nepal currently suffers from remains the major indicator that our economy continues to do very badly.
While Oli jee also bragged about the stability in the government with him being the PM for two continuous years, as a people’s representative he should feel guilty of the fact that it comes at a great moral price in that this stability has been the result of the support of the erstwhile Maoists who have blood in their hand for the slaying of thousands of UML’s own cadres as well as the innocent masses of Nepal. In the eyes of the people it remains a dirty deal: Olijee shelters them in his party in exchange for their support for his staying as PM. But with the endless procrastination of Truth and Justice process to protect these terrorists, justice has been denied to the victims’ kith and kin. That only suggests that Oli jee has also degenerated into being a callous politician. With someone like Mr. Oli at the helm with such susceptibility to corruption and inhuman indifference towards the suffering of fellow citizens, clearly, the worse is yet to come to this hapless country. The only people who must have enormously thanked Olijee for his follies and vulnerabilities would be the band of corrupt politicians who today fill the ranks of the ruling and opposition parties, although the NC party as a whole including Deuba has been acting more as collaborators with the former under our brand of bhagbanda politics.
Two major areas of penance and damage control
But Olijee’s health comes out as an intervening variable. He had recently mentioned about going for another kidney transplant and then “work vigorously for nation building for another three years” thereafter. While the whole nation wishes that the procedure should go flawlessly with textbook precision, it would still render him incapacitated to a certain extent for a long time to come. Thus, the time that he has at his disposal is precious. In specific terms, he should have a think tank working for an orderly reversal or damage control in four major areas of misrule that Oli jee seems to have, rather unwittingly engineered. The first one is about curbing corruption. This involves not only fully empowering anti-graft bodies but also go for structural reform of the state so that the force of accountability would prevent these greedy politicos from indulging in corruption. This would require revamping our local governance and bring the local bodies to the doorstep of the people in the communities. Secondly, PM Oli must honestly and intelligently reorganize Nepal’s development administration so that people can be assured of their future becoming prosperous and themselves becoming happy. There is no alternative to or going back on delivering on his flagship slogan of Prosperous Nepal and Happy Nepalis.
Olijee should also realize that people no longer have any confidence in his words and action. They have come to believe that whatever he says or does, they are all laced with ulterior motives. Arguing with the press cannot reverse this widely shared worsening image of himself, and flute sessions like the recent one or his habitual sarcasms only make matters worse. Given such a disadvantage he is already in, he should now strive to attain what Shakespeare prescribed for Julius Caesar: “Caesar’s wife must not only be above suspect; she must also be seen as being above suspect.”