Oli launches scathing attack on ruling alliance, common minimum programmeThe alliance leaders dismiss criticisms as Oli venting out his frustration following his ouster.
CPN-UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli spoke in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, his first address in Parliament after his ouster as prime minister on July 13, where he launched a scathing criticism of the coalition government led by Sher Bahadur Deuba and attacked his former comrades Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Madhav Kumar Nepal.
The leader of the main opposition raised questions over the contents of the government’s recently announced common minimum programme.
In a lengthy speech, Oli stressed that the Deuba government was not formed on the basis of a popular mandate but through a mandamus order of the Supreme Court. He lashed out at the ruling coalition’s common minimum programme and said the government had failed to make it public through the House even when it was in session.
“I do not see the face of the Nepali Congress in the common minimum programme,” Oli said, hinting that the party had failed to visibly present its agenda in the document and that it was dominated by the concerns of the ruling allies.
Oli questioned the resolve of the Deuba administration to hold talks with India to reclaim Kalapani, Limpiyadhura and Lipulekh, the areas also claimed by India as its own.
After the boundary row with India heated up, the Oli government in May 2020 unveiled the new map of Nepal, putting Kalapani, Limpiyadhura and Lipulekh within Nepal’s borders. The constitution was amended later unanimously to reflect the new map in the national emblem.
“Why didn't you say we will bring back our land?” Oli questioned. “If you fail to bring back the land, after a year and a half [after the general elections], we will reclaim the areas.”
From domestic issues to Nepal’s foreign policy conduct, Oli questioned several issues incorporated in the common minimum programme of the Deuba government.
Ruling party leaders said that Oli’s speech in Parliament and his vociferous attack against the common minimum programme was fitting for an opposition party leader.
“Did you expect the opposition party leader to greet the common minimum programme of the government?” said Purna Bahadur Khadka, who led a seven-member team that drafted the common minimum programme.
He said the common minimum programme was “perfect, balanced and drafted in civilized language”.
It was in fact Dahal, the chairman of Nepal Communist Party (Maoist Centre), who had convinced Oli into introducing the new map of Nepal, Khadka claimed.
“I am surprised by the remarks that Oli made in Parliament.”
When the new political and administrative map of Nepal was issued in May 2020, Oli and Dahal were in the same party, Nepal Communist Party (NCP).
It was in March this year that the Supreme Court invalidated the merger between Oli’s UML and Dahal’s Maoist Centre.
In his speech, Oli mostly attacked Dahal and his party, Maoist Centre.
During the first meeting of Parliament on July 18, Dahal had likened his party to fire and warned his detractors not to play with fire.
“Yes, the Maoist party is a fire. I remember the Maoist party igniting the fire in the past and we had doused it with a bucket of water or two,” Oli told Parliament, taking a swipe at Dahal and his party.
Without naming Madhav Nepal, who led dissident UML leaders to petition the court to order the appointment of Congress leader Deuba as prime minister, Oli asked the chief executive to give them ministerial posts, saying that some of them were in a desperate bid to become ministers.
The opposition leader also urged the coalition government to table the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Bill in the House, which has been pending for the last three years.
He questioned the government why the MCC was not on its common minimum programme.
“Did you forget about the MCC? Nepali people want to know what will happen to the MCC,” Oli said.
A Maoist Centre leader said though the issue of MCC was widely discussed while preparing the common minimum programme, it was later agreed that it should be handed over to the top leaders of the ruling parties.
“You have 165 votes. What does this strong group of parliamentarians say?” Oli questioned. “Are you going to ratify or reject the MCC, or remain silent?”
Oli also asked the Deuba government about its plan regarding the report of the Eminent Persons’ Group on Nepal-India relations.
“What are the unequal treaties that this government wants to scrap? What are the boundary disputes with the neighbouring countries?” Oli said. “The common minimum programme has failed to mention them.”
Oli also raised the issue of corruption during the management of cantonments for former Maoist fighters following the signing of the 2006 peace deal.
The government had released billions of rupees for the management of Maoist fighters and some allege that huge financial embezzlement had taken place during the process. A case of corruption is still pending at the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority.
“What is this government’s view regarding the corruption case in cantonment management?” Oli said.
Dev Gurung, a Maoist party leader and the member of the task force that prepared the common minimum programme, said Oli had nothing new to say.
“He just vented his frustrations for being ousted from the government,” he said.
“He didn’t have anything substantial to comment on policy issues and was nitpicking over some small technical and language issues in the common minimum programme.”
Gurung said the MCC issue will be sorted out once senior leaders of the ruling alliance sit together.
Another leader of the ruling alliance, Baburam Bhattarai of the Janata Samajbadi Party said Oli’s allegations should be dismissed.
He was the one who attempted to assassinate democracy and parliament but does not have any regrets over his misdeeds, Bhattarai said.
“He was in power for three years with a strong mandate but he stopped all progressive agendas. He created a mountain of corruption. In fact, he does not have the right to speak in Parliament. He derailed the entire process so he deserves to be rejected. He should have remained silent,” said Bhattarai.