As Deuba marks 100 days, Maoists want official position on MCC pactObservers are unimpressed with the coalition government’s performance.
Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba completed his 100 days as prime minister this Wednesday. And his report card does not look quite impressive. After assuming office, Deuba, who is leading a coalition of a motley crew of parties, took three months to expand his Cabinet. He started with four Cabinet ministers, and only on October 8, he could give full shape to his government. Gajendra Hamal, one of the ministers he had appointed, resigned in less than three days after the appointment ran into controversy, as media reports suggested he was made minister on Chief Justice Cholendra Shumsher Rana’s recommendation.
Deuba has considerably failed to demonstrate that he is better than his predecessor KP Sharma Oli, the chairman of the CPN-UML who was ousted by the Supreme Court’s verdict for violating the constitution.
In the last 100 days, according to the opposition parties, ruling party leaders and some observers, the Deuba government has dampened the initial enthusiasm seen in the public and instead invited one after another controversy. They were more critical of his misuse of the government’s ordinance-making power to split the CPN-UML.
“Our expectation from this government was low as it was not formed by people’s mandate,” Pradip Gyawali, spokesperson of the opposition UML, said.
“The way the government introduced the ordinance to ease party split shows Deuba is not committed to the constitution, democracy and parliamentary practices. Secondly, his government reached an unholy power-sharing deal with the head of the judiciary,” said Gyawali.
“Also the government policy to allow illegitimate funds will have serious ramifications for the country. In total, the country is not heading in the correct direction.”
On Wednesday morning, Deuba’s private secretariat released a 24-point list of the government's ‘achievements’ of the last 100 days that included successful vaccine diplomacy by ensuring 13 million Covid vaccines after the formation of the government. The list claimed the government has pursued a balanced foreign policy, has fully vaccinated 32.6 percent of target population, created environment for foreign investment, decided to provide Rs 5,000 per month to patients of heart, kidney and spinal injury and Rs 10,000 aid to extremely poor households, and announced Rs 500,000 each to Nepali footballers who recently secured second position in the SAFF championship among other things.
But those observing the government’s works closely say the government has hardly done anything commendable in the 100 days.
“Barring the successful management of Covid vaccine and reappointment of Kulman Ghising in the Nepal Electricity Authority, the government has not done anything praiseworthy,” said political analyst Shyam Shrestha, adding, “We have yet to see how will the newly appointed ministers perform.”
The government has transferred a huge number of bureaucrats, the economy is not in a good shape as banks are facing liquidity crunch, trade deficit is ballooning and recent rains, floods and landslides across the country have caused massive crop losses besides huge losses to life and property.
Leaders of the ruling alliance have expressed mixed reaction to the government’s performance.
“The government is successful in terms of protecting the constitution and parliament which was the fundamental basis of the formation of the Deuba government,” Dev Gurung, a Standing Committee member of the CPN (Maoist Center) said, while criticising the opposition UML for disrupting parliamentary proceedings. “There are hiccups because Parliament is not functioning well due to the UML’s dubious role.”
He, however, was not happy with the government’s handling of the border issues with the neighbours and the MCC compact.
“There are outstanding boundary issues with India and the government has unnecessarily created a boundary row with China,” said Gurung.
Gurung feels the government should make its position clear on the US-led Indo-Pacific strategy.
“There is confusion over the MCC. When will the government initiate talks with India on boundary issues and when will it say we are not part of the Indo-Pacific Strategy and the MCC ? There is still confusion over these issues,” he said.
In the last 100 days, one major issue the government faced backlash for was its failure to aptly deal with India in connection with the disappearance of Jay Singh Dhami. Dhami, a local of Darchula, fell into the Mahakali river and disappeared while crossing the river using an improvised cable crossing on July 30. A government probe has indicated involvement of Indian security personnel in his disappearance. Although the government is said to have sent a diplomatic note to India on the matter, the Indian government has not yet responded.
On the China front, the government formed a probe team headed by Joint Secretary Jaya Narayan Acharya on alleged border encroachment by China in Humla district. The probe has suggested that a joint team of experts from both Nepal and China should resolve the issue.
But there are some who think the government is working quietly on the foreign policy front. Former chairman of the Public Service Commission and home secretary Umesh Mainali says unlike the past Oli government, the Deuba government is making less publicity in terms of advancing the foreign policy issues.