Oli says he was not allowed to work. But he flaunts his achievementsAnalysts and leaders say the prime minister is making contradictory statements to justify his House dissolution move.
Three years ago, when KP Sharma Oli took reins of the government, it was an historic moment in Nepal. The country had got a prime minister to govern for the full term; voters had given the prime minister a carte blanche to come up with his best development model.
On Monday, Oli, in his third year in office, read out a 23-page-long self-congratulatory report card of his own, highlighting his government’s achievements. Of the 74 points he read, from one to nine, Oli, however, spent on elaborating his House dissolution move and justifying why it was necessary. From 10 to 71, Oli counted his government’s achievements. In his 72nd point, he made a dramatic statement, saying “the above list is not the description of the work [done by the government] but just general information on the accomplishments.”
“The year which I declared the base year for prosperity, I fell ill. The year we wanted to expedite development, we were hit by the Covid-19 pandemic,” Oli added. “Just when the nation should have united to fight the pandemic, my colleagues wholeheartedly made attempts to unseat the government. This definitely impacted our success and dreams. I believe the country does not have to be pessimistic given the foundation we have built and the works we have accomplished over the last three years despite propaganda."
Leaders, analysts and political observers say what Oli said on Monday on the completion of his third year as a prime minister is a routine thing, but what is surprising is he hugely contradicted himself. His justification that he dissolved the House because his colleagues did not let him work does not add up because he himself believes his government has achieved so much over the past years, according to them.
“Oli is contradicting himself,” said Raghuji Pant, a Standing Committee member of the Nepal Communist Party (Dahal-Nepal faction). “Oli tells a lie most of the time. If we had not cooperated, then how come he achieved so much?”
Oli led the Nepal Communist Party, along with Pushpa Kamal Dahal, after the merger between then CPN-UML and Maoist Centre in May 2018, three months after he was elected prime minister.
The party had emerged as the biggest communist force in Nepal’s history, but the two parties came from two schools of thought. Hence, friction was bound to start between leaders–and for that matter between Oli and Dahal. That aside, senior leaders who came from the UML had their own issues with Oli and vice versa.
The Nepal Communist Party was mired in power struggle. But insiders say the internal conflict started to intensify after Oli refused to abide by a gentleman’s agreement reached during the time of party merger that he and Dahal would lead the government in turns.
After allegations and counter-allegations between Dahal and Oli in November last year, the prime minister on December 20 took a drastic step of dissolving the House.
Before starting to enumerate the achievements of his government, Oli said that he believed it was imperative to talk a little bit about what necessitated the House dissolution.
He accused some senior party leaders of creating obstacles in his work.
“Some leaders tried to run a parallel government and I was forced to feel like I was running a coalition government. Several bills were not moving forward, appointments to the constitutional bodies were obstructed,” said Oli. “So after failing to get support from within the party, I dissolved the House. In fact, I was facing difficulties and obstructions from the very beginning while running the government.”
Govind Raj Pokharel, former vice-chairman of the National Planning Commission and a Nepali Congress leader, said Oli has been presenting contradictory conclusions.
A government’s job is to deliver, but Oli destroyed institutions and politicised them and ruined the governance system, according to Pokharel.
“No matter what Oli has counted as his achievements, he has left the country in a state of confusion,” Pokhrel told the Post. “There are uncertainties over politics, economy and governance.”
When Oli took office after the first elections under the new constitution, one of the major tasks of his government was to strengthen federalism and implement the constitution. Oli’s statements, however, undermined the federal set-up, as he often called sub-national governments as administrative units of the federal government.
Oli’s party directly controlled provincial governments when it came to deciding the names and capitals of provinces, ignoring the constitutional provisions.
On Monday, Oli said that his government did a satisfactory job when it came to implementation of the constitution and federalism.
On other issues, ranging from economy to post-quake reconstruction, from infrastructure and urban development to electricity to health and education to foreign policy, Oli presented a list of extraordinary accomplishments.
Oli said that his government’s prudent response led to the control of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Oli administration’s handling of the pandemic, however, has received widespread criticism, with ministers in his Cabinet facing corruption charges.
Ramsharan Bajagain, a member of Oli’s communication team, said what Oli read out on Monday are just the highlights of what his government has achieved over the years despite the obstacles.
“If people had not created obstacles, the government would have achieved a lot more than this,” Bajgain told the Post. “There is no need to mislead people.”
When people voted Oli to power, there were hopes that he would lead the country for the full five-year term, heralding a stable government, as frequent government changes had become the bane of the country.
For about two decades, Nepali people were witnessing the old game of musical chairs, with, on average, the change in the government leadership every nine months.
Oli, however, dissolved the House and called snap polls for April 30 and May 10–about a year and a half earlier than schedule.
But on Monday, Oli said that the House dissolution was purely a political move that was taken with a pious objective of seeking a fresh mandate so as to unite the country and the parties.
“The step was taken to rid the democratic system of the dirty game of 'equations and alliances’. The step was taken out of compulsion but it was imperative," Oli added.
Analysts say Oli appears to be completely insulated from reality.
“He should tell how party leaders were an impediment to his government’s functioning,” said Rajendra Maharjan. “He has not said party leaders did not support him. He is creating illusion. Since he himself is not clear about what he wants to do, he is levelling allegations against others.”