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Is Deuba Competent?

Issue October 2017

Is Deuba Competent?

Siddhi B Ranjitkar


Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba appointed the members of Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) to the deputy prime minister, ministers and ministers of state on Friday slamming down the election code of conduct, even knowing the legislature-parliament is going to end on Saturday midnight, October 14, 2017; so, Deuba would not need to face any vote of no confidence. Whether the President would administer an oath of office to the appointees Deuba made remains to be seen. President could reject it, and Deuba could not threaten to impeach the president, as the legislature-parliament is no more. So, Deuba has not anything good to prove he is really a competent man since former king Gyanendra labeled him as an incompetent in October 2002. Incidentally, Deuba got labeled incompetent for not holding the parliamentary election in 2002. Whether Deuba is preparing for the same again proving he is really an incompetent person remains to be seen.


On Friday, October 13, 2017, Prime Minister Deuba appointed Chairman of RPP: Kamal Thapa to the deputy prime minister and three of his associates to the ministers, and four to the ministers of state making the cabinet of 64 members, the news in “gorkhapatra” of October 14, 2017 stated. It is historically a largest cabinet. Nepal had never such a large cabinet in the past and most probably would not be in the future, too.


Deuba knew that he was violating the election code of conduct by expanding his cabinet but he damned it because he believed that nobody could harm him, as the legislature-parliament was no more where somebody could register a vote of no confidence. He also knew that the Election Commission could not do anything for violating the election code of conduct except for making a noise or writing a protest letter at the maximum. He could easily trash such a letter if any were to show up.


Probably, Deuba believed that he had everything and nobody could harm him; and he could live on to complete his term of office until the next few months. Then, the question was why he needed to expand the cabinet inducting the eight members of the RPP? He needed a support of RPP, for what? Even if the Maoists quit the cabinet, Deuba would not fall from the power. He would remain in power until the next elected House of Representatives would elect another prime minister. This would happen only after the elections to the provincial and federal House of Representatives to be held in two phases: first on November 26, and then in December 7, 2017. The time for Deuba to be in office might be even less than two months.


Kamal Thapa had been acting as a reserved trump card for any prime minister to use whenever any prime minister needed the last support for surviving in office. Thus, Thapa had kept his option to be a deputy of any prime ministers. He was one of the six deputy prime ministers in the cabinet of Prime Minister KP Oli. He had been a deputy prime minister in several cabinets in the past. So, he had been practically addicted to the position of deputy prime minister.


Thapa had no hope of being a prime minister, as his party was so tiny it fitted only in the slot of any party for its leader to have the majority required for getting elected to a prime minister from the legislature-parliament. So, his party and Thapa had been perfectly a trump card in the game of politics. Taking a look at the results of the local elections, anybody could come to the conclusion that RPP had no hold in the Terai, and a little hold in the hills, and practically no hold in the mountain region. If Thapa were to remain aloof means not joining other two RPPs then Thapa might not be able to cross the threshold of three percent for being a political party in the federal parliament. Then, his party and Thapa would lose even the possibility of being a trump card in the future political games.


What Deuba could able to do might be limited in absence of the legislature-parliament, and both the president and vice-president are of CPN-UML and CPN-Maoist-Center respectively. Probably, Prachanda had built up such a power balance envisioning the probability of Deuba being a prime minister and doing something that would be detrimental to the new political setup the constitution had designed.


Deuba could hardly do anything except for complaining if the president were not to administer an oath of office to the newly appointed deputy prime minister, and ministers. Deuba had sent the list of ministers to the office of the president for administering the oath of office, according to the news but the president had not set a date for doing so rather she had been consulting with the Election Commission and the legal experts, the news in “gorkhapatra” of October 14, 2017 stated.


Obviously, the president could easily reject the recommendations of the prime minister. What Prime Minister Deuba could do was nothing again. He could have threatened the president with a motion to impeach her but that option was no more available, as the legislature-parliament was no more. So, the lame-duck Prime Minister Deuba might have limited scope to do any drastic things no matter how bold he could be.


Deuba said that one-party communism would put the democracy at risk, the news in “gorkhapatra” of October 13, 2017 stated. He was perfectly correct if the communism were to impose in Nepal then the country would not have any democracy and democratic institutions. However, the question was whether Nepal had even one percent of somebody imposing the communism. Not even one tenth of one percent of the possibility was there to impose any socialism not to mention communism. Then, why Deuba was saying so. It might be his quixotic statement nothing else.


Deuba’s party was quite strong to face the opposition of any political parties. It had a long historical background, and Deuba himself had been saying that his party had fought against the autocratic Rana regime and then the Shah regime and so on, and ultimately, his party set up the federal democratic republic. It was a strong party, no doubt about that but Deuba had to keep it as strong as had been in the past.


Whether Deuba would like it or not some of the NC leaders including the founding father BP Koirala had the mindset of fear of the left parties coming together and challenging the NC. Deuba had simply carried over the phobia; so, he had been nervous of the left party alliance. In fact, some of his party men simply could not believe that the left parties came together and challenged them. However, unfortunately for them, it had been so.


Some brave and realistic NC leaders such as Dr Shasank Koirala had said that the left parties alliance was a good opportunity for the NC. He correctly foresaw that it would bring all the broken pieces of the party together and unite them to a single strong party. Different fragments within the party grew up due to the undemocratic actions of its president particularly Deuba that had crossed every limit of the democratic institution. He was the president of the Democratic Party but he had been behaving not less than any party leader of one-party system.


Dr Shasank Koirala must have foreseen that his party could be stronger when the left parties formed an alliance among them and came together to challenge it in the elections, as his party president would need to be competent to organize the party, and anybody without such skill would have no place for being in the high command of the party. In such a case, naturally, Deuba would have to be restless, as he had no skill in improving the performances of his party except for bribing the corrupt politicians inducting them to his cabinet or sending them to Bangkok for the medical treatment for neutralizing their votes for the vote of no-confidence registered at the parliament in the past.


Surely, listening to Kamal Thapa, Deuba might not be able to save himself from being incompetent but listening to his colleagues in his party might be if he were to listen to them seriously.


However, the party stalwart such as BP Koirala had not even set the practice of listening to the sincere party colleagues if he had he would not have to lose the power for his whole life. BP could get his power back if he were to listen to his party colleagues and not to suffer from the phobia of the left political parties even in 1979 when the students’ protest turned into the strong political uprising.


Then, BP quietly accepted the rigging of the referendum on the choice of the improved panchayat and the multi-party system held in 1980, and let the panchayat win fearing the left parties would come out strongly, as his party had been in disarray after it took the political hit from the then king Mahendra in 1960. BP Koirala even though was a NC leader of international stature could not think of leading both the left and right political parties, and then building up a party of his own going along the middle of these two extreme political parties because of his poor mindset of being against the left parties.


Would Deuba do what BP could not with the similar mindset? No way. Deuba had already demonstrated he would not be able to do so vigorously opposing the left parties alliance rather than welcoming it, as the alliance could set the NC on the right path for the political stability and for the stable government; and then it would not need any trump cards such as Kamal Thapa or anybody that had been one of the six deputies of prime minister in the past.


If Deuba were not careful and take the actions without considering their impact on the elections to the provincial and federal elections then he might be leading his party to the disastrous defeat. So, Deuba needed to consider how to consolidate his party and prepare for the elections rather than trying to undermine the left party alliance using the political trump card.


If Deuba were to correctly understand the current political situation then he would not be able to do anything no matter what card he would use in the coming few months before actually the elections were held. The president would checkmate the Deuba’s actions that were not in the interest of the left parties. So, he should not dream of postponing the elections, and lengthening his tenure as the prime minister even for a few more months.


If Deuba were to play the political game correctly in the coming few months, NC had a good chance of winning a considerable number of seats in the federal and provincial House of Representatives. However, Deuba’s narrow political mind, and his incompetence might prove to be fatal for his party.


Deuba did not let the bill on national assembly pass in the legislature-parliament even in the last moment believing it would be favoring the left parties to win majority in the national assembly even though the NC had prepared the bill and passed it through the concerned parliamentary committee, and submitted it to the parliament.


Deuba needed to listen to the opposition voices even if they were not so sweet to his good ears but they might be guiding him to the correct path to the success of his party and him, too. Deuba also needed to be a democrat and run the party in a democratic way for making it strong. It is not enough for him to be the president of the Democratic Party but he needs to be a leader with good political vision and with the qualities of a democratic leader. The choice is of course Deuba’s which one he likes to pick up.


One thing not only Deuba but also any Nepalese political leaders have to accept the fact that no political party or leader no matter how large or how powerful the leader might be could change the course of the current political flow of events. The time is of the 21st century. No matter on whose name any political leaders could meditate s/he could not do much to grab the power again, as the common folks would stand up against any regressive force.


October 14, 2017

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