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Chaotic Oli Administration

Issue July 2019

Chaotic Oli Administration

Siddhi B Ranjitkar


I don’t know, nobody informed me about the Indian letter sent or received on the test conducted for pesticide in the vegetables coming from India: Prime Minister KP Oli publicly said and, he said that he had inadvertently misinformed the public that India did not send a letter, and he apologized to the public for the misinformation. That was great.


The Oli administration unexpectedly introduced the test for pesticide in the vegetables imported from India causing trucks carrying vegetables stranded at various custom offices on the border between India and Nepal for almost a week raising the alarm in the Indian media, and causing concern for the Indian government, as the farmers and traders suffered from the decay of vegetables meant for Nepal.


Billions of rupees worth of vegetables come from India for feeding the Nepalis, as most of the Nepalese youths went abroad for earning foreign currencies for the country and for themselves leaving behind the fertile land used for growing vegetables fallow in Nepal.


Obviously, vegetables coming from India had the high pesticide that would be deadly to the health of the consumers, as even the Indian media had reported. However, the Indian establishment wanted Nepalis to eat the vegetables without considering the pesticide contained in them. That was worst than an Indian embargo of 2015 because pesticide would slowly kill Nepalis in general and deformed the new generation in particular thus harming the entire population.


Apparently, the Indian embassy in Kathmandu had sent a letter to the Ministry of Agriculture stating India and Nepal had an agreement that India holds tests for pesticide contained in the vegetables sent to Nepal, and Nepal does the same; so no need for conducting any tests for pesticide contained in the vegetables either side importing or exporting vegetables. That was the period in the letter, and Nepal right away suspended the ad-hoc test for the pesticide contained in the vegetables coming from India. How fast and effectively acted that letter on the Nepalese decision makers was crystal clear from the events quickly developed.


That unanticipated test and then immediate suspension of the test had created the uproar in the Nepalese media, and charged the Oli administration with ignoring the health of Nepalis only to please the Indian government in other words bowed down to the Indian pressure stopping the test for pesticide contained in the vegetables imported from India.


That might be the reason why the Minister for Communications also the government spokesperson wanted to restrict the rights of the reporters and publishers to free expression introducing the infamous Media Council Bill that would severely hold back the rights to expression and the freedom of expression if it were to become a law. The minister wanted to replace the current Press Council Act with the Media Council Bill.


The minister for agriculture said that he had submitted the Indian letter concerning the test for the pesticide to the prime minister, the Nepalese media stated. If it were to be so then the prime minister either missed the letter or ignored to read it thinking it was not of so importance or probably, he must have the problem of memory because of the heavy doses of medicine he had been taking in. After media uproar, probably, the prime minister needed to say that he was misinformed because neither the ministry of foreign affairs nor the ministry of agriculture or the ministry of supplies had informed him on the letter the Indian embassy in Kathmandu had sent.


Minister for Supplies Matrika Yadav also complained that he was misled, according to the Nepalese media. Probably, he was talking about the ignorance of the agreement between India and Nepal had on holding the test for pesticide contained in the vegetables by the agencies of both the governments before sending them to each other or his secretary did not inform him about the insufficient facilities Nepal had for conducting the test for the pesticide contained in the vegetables imported from India causing embarrassment both to the minister and the prime minister. He accepted his defeat in this unpleasant and embarrassing case.


Minister Matrika Yadav must have introduced the test for the pesticide contained in the vegetables imported from India in view of the health of the Nepalis in good faith to protect Nepalis from the poison-infected vegetables. However, holding up the trucks carrying vegetables to Nepal at the custom offices on the border between Nepal and India drew the prompt attention of the Indian government, which alerted its embassy in Kathmandu to take instant and correct actions to regularize the flow of Indian vegetables to the Nepalese market. It also straight away caused the prices of vegetables to rise up in Nepal because of the short supply of vegetables. And the public became very concerned about the pesticide contained, and the price rise.


Thus, conducting the test for pesticide contained in the vegetables coming from India backfired on the prime minister that had been so proud of standing up to the Indian blockade for more than five months in 2015 and 2016 because his administration had to instantly suspend the test probably even not consulting with Prime Minister Oli; that must have made him mad at his ministers. Fortunately for the ministers, he did not take any actions not to mention firing them on the spot, as other prime ministers would have done in such a disastrous scandal. Anyway, Prime Minister Oli was so generous to his ministers that he had been keeping the scandalous ministers in his cabinet no matter how hard those scams had hit his administration and certainly his party, too, and became the reasons for the humiliation of those communists in power and out of power, too.


Some ministers came out with the excuse for suspending the test stating it was only temporary suspension because of the lack of the laboratories for conducting the fast tests at the custom offices on the border. Then, folks started off questioning why the administration introduced the test if Nepal had no facilities for holding the tests. The Oli administration had no quick answer to this question. Then, one of the ministers particularly the agricultural minister stated that the Oli administration had already allocated sufficient budget for setting up laboratories; and within a year all custom offices would have a laboratory. How smart those ministers had been they could do anything if it were to suit them?


Minister for Agriculture Chakrapani Khanal went to see the pesticide-testing laboratory at the Kalimati vegetable wholesale market in Kathmandu. His picture of checking vegetable at the market was published in the state-run newspaper to make sure that he was doing something concerning the test for the pesticide contained in vegetables imported from India. Is it not a drama played for a show to cover up the immature actions or decisions of the ministers including that of the prime minister?


The Nepalese media had it that one of the pesticide-testing laboratories had been idle because of the lack of human power to conduct testing indicating Nepal has the laboratories but remained idle; surely, it indicated no excuse for not having sufficient laboratories. Probably, the ministers concerned with the pesticide testing had no idea of such a laboratory remaining idle otherwise they would have used such idle laboratories rather than hastily trying to set up new ones at the custom offices. Probably, to state the lack of laboratories, as the reason for suspending the test was really to misinform the public to defend the suspension of the test conducted for the pesticide containing in the vegetables coming from India under the intense external pressure.


Then, an advocate petitioned the Supreme Court for continuing the test for the pesticide in the vegetables imported from India, as it was the concern for the health of the entire population. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of conducting the test for pesticide in view of the health concern for all the citizens. Whether the Oli administration had managed to conduct the test for the pesticide in the vegetables coming from India or not was not publicly stated so far. The business for importing and distributing vegetables has been as usual no matter how much pesticide contained in those vegetables.


Some fellow citizens had called for boycotting the vegetables for a week. Whether the folks had followed the call or not was unknown, too. However, the short supply of vegetables had been mitigated. Nobody had publicly complained about the pesticide in the vegetables. Nepalis continued to consume probably the pesticide-infested vegetables. The harmful results of eating such vegetables would be seen only after some years when the health problems among Nepalis would gradually appear. Hospitals would need to brace up for such anticipated health problems in a few years.


Some experts on cleaning up the pesticide and how to minimize the content of pesticide demonstrated on the video posted on the social media. Keeping the vegetables in salt water for 10 minutes and then rinsing them off in the tap water would remove the pesticide in the vegetables to the level of making them eatable safely, the expert said.


The Nepal Students’ Union affiliated to the Nepali Congress put up a protest demonstration. They had been protesting against the suspension of conducting the test for pesticide in the vegetables imported from India. That was of course a political game the opposition party’s duty to play. Anyway, it was played in the interest of the common folks.


Obviously, the prime minister had no control over the ministers, as he did not know who was doing what. He had reached the stage of the need for apologizing to the people for misinformation on the Indian letter to Nepal. At least, Prime Minister Oli had apologized for one misinformation but many more misinformation was there for him needing to apologize. When would Mr. Oli have time to apologize to the people for not doing what he had said he would do remains to be seen? He deserves thanks at least for one apology. However, keeping all those ministers, who should have been held accountable for the disgraceful decisions in his cabinet no matter what impact of those scams had been on his administration and on the party was really incompetence of the chief executive.


July 16, 2019


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