Observers, even opponents praise Dahal government's anti-corruption campaignProbe into Bhutanese refugee scam and reopening of the Lalita Niwas land-grab case seen as bold steps of the government.
As the prime minister’s secretariat published a list of 77 works as the government’s achievements, independent observers consider two of the Pushpa Kamal Dahal government’s bold steps as its true accomplishments.
The arrest of senior politicians, top officials and middlemen in connection with the Bhutanese refugee scam and reopening of the Lalita Niwas land grab case were regarded as notable actions by Dahal, who is serving his third stint as prime minister.
Lalita Niwas land grab case is one of the major scams of the country as former prime ministers, ministers, top officials and many middlemen are accused of being involved in transferring public land adjoining the prime minister’s residence to many individuals.
Dahal’s secretariat on Thursday, marking the completion of six months of Dahal’s appointment as prime minister, unveiled a list of 77 regular works in 44 pages as the government’s achievements.
Claiming that his government has paved the right way amid the country’s bleak economic scenario, the prime minister had told the lawmakers on Wednesday that he would give distinction to his performance.
Prime Minister Dahal also went on to say that the campaign of ‘servicing’ and ‘purification’ of democracy in Nepal has already started with the investigation into the fake Bhutanese refugee scam. He termed it as the ‘largest investigation and action taken’ in the country’s history.
According to political analysts and observers, the CPN (Maoist Centre) chair Dahal-led coalition government backed by the largest party Nepali Congress, has accomplished some crucial works–the fake Bhutanese refugee scam and reopening of the Lalita Niwas land-grab case.
Challenged by the rise of new forces like the Rastriya Swatantra Party, the Dahal-led government seemed to have made some crucial moves against corruption despite having an uncomfortable situation within the ruling coalition because that could shake the very foundation of his government.
Subas Nembang, the vice-chair of the main opposition party CPN-UML who is also the deputy leader of the UML parliamentary party, however, claimed that there was nothing, in particular, to be listed as Dahal government’s achievements except the investigation into the fake Bhutanese refugee scam. He claimed that the Lalita Niwas land grab investigations were started by the previous KP Sharma Oli led government.
Although the land grab case was opened by the Oli government, it could not take it ahead after some UML leaders, including its senior leader Bishnu Poudel, were also found to have purchased a piece of the Lalita Niwas land.
Recently, the government arrested Min Bahadur Gurung, owner of the Bhatbhateni Supermarket–Nepal’s largest retail chain, for his involvement in the transaction of various plots inside the Lalita Niwas besides former election commissioner Sudhir Kumar Shah and former government employees Gopal Karki and Dharma Prasad Gautam, among others.
“The only achievement of this government is that it continues to remain in power,” Nembang, the UML leader, told the Post. “There is nothing the government can list as its achievements.”
According to him, the government has failed to give business to Parliament as much as to run Parliament in an appropriate manner.
The government, prime minister and the ministers in his Cabinet are individually and collectively accountable to Parliament in the parliamentary system, but their presence could not remain effective in the legislature, Nembang said.
“The government, skipping the sovereign parliament, is making public its activities through press conferences,” Nembang, who led both the Constituent Assembly, complained.
Dahal’s government faced lots of criticism over budget as many of the ruling party lawmakers criticised the annual financial plan saying it could not back the government’s policy and programmes, and the allocations were discriminatory.
Their major concern was that a large chunk of the budget, according to opposition lawmakers, was allocated to the constituencies of a handful of top leaders of the ruling parties.
“The prime minister had difficulties in securing votes, even from lawmakers of ruling parties and then he had to promise them that funds from the 76 billion chunk allocated on miscellaneous topics,” Nembang said. “From 99 percent he had garnered upon appointment as prime minister, support for the government has now fallen to 53 percent.”
Nembang said Dahal’s India visit wasn’t successful as claimed by the prime minister.
Prime Minister Dahal had claimed that he was successful in convincing India to allow Nepal to sell electricity to Bangladesh via Indian territory besides signing two more major hydropower projects, although there was widespread criticism of the unusual delay in implementing similar projects in the past.
However, some political analysts claimed that Dahal, as the leader of a party with only 32 lawmakers, has successfully instilled hope among the people by making some crucial moves against corruption.
“I think Dahal is on the path to gaining more popularity compared to his contemporaries like Deuba and Oli,” said Puranjan Acharya, a political analyst close to Nepali Congress. “In politics, the one who takes risks, rises.”
Acharya said by re-opening the Lalita Niwas land grab case, Dahal is trying to keep not only the UML, but also Madhav Kumar Nepal [chief of CPN (Unified Socialist] and Baburam Bhattarai [chair of Socialist Party of Nepal] in check.
“It seems Dahal is taking more calculative moves lately,” Acharya said. “These two moves [Bhutanese refugee and Lalita Niwas investigations] are really praiseworthy.”