Commitments and contradictionsThe government has started some good initiatives but struggled to follow through.
Nepali political leaders are notorious for making big promises while making little effort to follow through on them. This was certainly the case with the two previous occupants of highest office in the land: KP Oli and Sher Bahadur Deuba. In what is his third stint as prime minister, Pushpa Kamal Dahal vowed to do things differently. But he too is struggling to keep his word. While addressing the anniversary function of the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) on Sunday, he promised not to meddle in the anti-corruption efforts of the constitutional body. He said he would work to strengthen the anti-graft body.
On Saturday, before a big crowd from the Tamang community, the prime minister said he would pick a minister from the Tamang community in the next Cabinet reshuffle. Just a few days before that, he was interacting with chief ministers and ministers of seven provinces. The prime minister said devolving powers to the provincial level to make the federal system powerful was his top priority. The chief ministers are not convinced as the process to fulfil their demands is yet to start in earnest. (To be fair to Dahal, integration of the federal police force in the provinces has seen some momentum.)
The prime minister’s recent commitment to set aside politics while appointing a vice-chancellor in Tribhuvan University has been a much-discussed topic for a couple of weeks. But recently the officiating vice-chancellor Shiva Lal Bhusal, who is believed to be close to the prime minister’s Maoist party, has made some key appointments in the university based on sharing of seats among the ruling as well as major opposition parties. This has again alarmed academicians and educationists, who had become a bit optimistic by the prime minister’s earlier pledge.
Separately, some announcements made by Prime Minister Dahal in his address to the nation on the occasion of a year in office were applauded. One of his promises was that he would radically change his working style by reducing his participation in trivial functions and would focus on making his office more result-oriented. But he couldn’t do so. Last month, Kantipur daily published a list of 160 events that the prime minister attended within a year. Most of them were inaugurations or anniversaries. This is unfortunate.
Again, the prime minister has publicly spoken of his wish to do something remarkable in this third time in Singha Durbar. There are reasons to believe him. Some of his government’s bold initiatives such as actions against those involved in fake Bhutanese refugee scam and gold smugglers, and arrest of those linked to Bansbari land scam substantiate his claim. The government has been publicly lauded for that as well. But many still question why government actions haven’t been taken to a logical end. Into his second year in office, Dahal should concentrate his energies on making his remaining time as prime minister more result-oriented. He should be focusing on delivery rather than adding to his long list of promises.