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KP Oli Prime Minister Again

Issue February 2018

KP Oli Prime Minister Again

Siddhi B Ranjitkar


On February 15, 2018, chairman of CPN-UML KP Oli took the oath of office from the president, and became the prime minister again for the second time. Oli needs to demonstrate he is a competent prime minister. However, he had not been so in the past. Consequently, he quit after nine months in office. Even today, his competency has been in doubt as he has not been able to unite the two communist parties into a single party and he could not make the Maoists join his cabinet. However, Oli would remain in office at least for two years.


The conspicuous absence of Chairman of CPN-Maoist-Center Prachanda at the swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister KP Oli has amply demonstrated that Oli has not been able to persuade Prachanda to be next to him at the time of the swearing-in ceremony means they have not been in a good term not to mention in the unification of their two parties into a single one. They might have a long way to go to the unification of their parties even though they have been working hard and having one-on-one meeting with each other several times.


A few of Oli’s colleagues such as Nirdhan Rai, Ishwor Pokharel and Shanker Pokharel have been the hurdle in the way to the unification. They have been deadly against giving the chair of the new party to Prachanda, who has been also not agreeing to surrender everything to KP Oli and his colleagues.


If Oil were to strictly follow his colleagues that have been against giving the position of the chair of a new party to Prachanda, and ignore the status of the Maoist leaders then he would surely be repeating the past mistake of not leaving office for Prachanda, and pushing Maoists to the NC, and letting them to have a coalition government. As a result Oli had to leave the office after nine months. This time he might have a two-year term of office but he would not be able to manage the political economical and social development to achieve as he stated he would.


In the past, Oli had agreed with Prachanda on holding the position of prime minister in turn. However, after nine months when Oli was to turn over the office to Prachanda he had adamantly said in the public he had not reach such an agreement with Prachanda and he would not quit the office. His colleagues such as Madhav Nepal and Jhalanath Khanal had lamented that Oli would have been better off if he had quit the office in favor Prachanda as agreed upon.


The story is repeating again. If the Nepalese media reporting the political events are correct, then Oli and Prachanda have reached an agreement on holding the office of prime minister in turn in other words to rotate the position of the prime minister. It is hard to believe this much of this story, as they must have more than that. Prachanda had already stated he could be the prime minister at any time if he wanted. That was true to some extent as Sher Bahadur Deuba really wanted to support Prachanda for the position of the prime minister but Prachanda remained committed to the unification of the two communist parties, which seemed to be in doubt now obviously Oli has betrayed Prachanda and the reality of unification of the two communist parties has been under the shadow. This is how Oli has proved that he has been incompetent.


Going beyond the State protocol inviting Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj to Nepal even before taking office, Oli also has proved that he is incompetent. Probably, Oli has forgotten that the performance of his party in the local, provincial and federal elections has been far more better than anticipated because of the Left Alliance, and his strong anti-Indian position during the naked blockade Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi imposed on Nepal when Nepalese had been suffering from the highly devastating earthquakes in 2015. Obviously, Oli has been again in the sphere of Indian influence in Nepal after Swaraj visited Nepal, and had a long talk with him.


Probably, Oli would visit India and China after taking office. Oli needs to break up this tradition of paying the State visit to northern and southern neighbors because it looks more like paying tribute to the big brothers and briefing them the new foreign policy of a newly appointed prime minister.


This time, Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed congratulated newly appointed Prime Minister KP Oli and invited him to visit Bangladesh, according to the Radio Nepal seven O’clock morning news aired on February 16, 2018. Bangladesh must be tired of the monopoly of the Indian influence in the South Asia. Prime Minister Wajed must have invited Oli to Bangladesh with the intention of breaking up the sphere of the Indian influence in this region. Oli might take it up but it might be the challenging task and Oli needs to be careful to handle such a foreign policy.


Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang has congratulated the newly appointed Prime Minister KP Oli, according to the Radio Nepal seven O’clock morning news aired on February 16, 2018 but he has stop short of inviting Oli to visit China. The invitation might come later but as already mentioned KP Oli needs to focus on the national development rather than going to the neighbors and then signing off a few development projects in grant that might or not be enforced, as the tradition has been both sides paid a little attention to enforce the commitments made and even agreement signed off at the time of State visit of a Nepalese prime minister.


However, the visit of a newly elected prime minister did not go beyond the two neighbors in the past except for visiting USA for attending the UN General Assembly. Naturally, Nepal has been within the sphere of influence of two giant neighbors.


Unlike Bhutan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka have been only within the sphere of the Indian influence not more in other words India could influence them but not dictate them as India has been doing to Bhutan that has not been able to set up the diplomatic relations with China because India did not allow her.


India even walked in the Bhutanese territory and lined up its army at Doklam: the border area between Bhutan and China without even informing Bhutan when India wanted to stop China from building the highway along the border area. Bhutan is a country that measures the status of the people in their happiness rather than their economic status. Unfortunately, Bhutan has been at the mouth of the giant monster that has been ready to swallow any time it wants.


When South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) was alive, small South Asian Countries such as Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Afghanistan, which joined later, could stand with the Indian prime minister as equals and talked about the regional cooperation.


However, after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi sat on the thrown in Delhi as the undeclared emperor of India, SAARC had to go for hibernation if not gone to sleep forever.  Modi certainly wanted to dictate the Head of State of other South Asian countries rather than listening to them as equals, and challenge China on one pretext or another.


China shares borders with Afghanistan, Bhutan, India, Nepal and Pakistan in the South Asia. China has no border problem with the South Asian countries except for India. China claims a large portion of the Indian Territory as occupied by the British Company government in India in the past, and India has been militarizing the border areas.


India has been concerned with China building a highway from the Chinese frontier to Pakistan reaching Arabian Sea crossing the disputed Jammu area in Pakistan. The highway would make China able to reach the sea even from its southern border means it would be easier for China to keep control on Tibet and other southern territory of China, and to improve the trade commerce and industry in this region, which India did not like and did not want to see it as a mutual beneficial access road in the South Asia.


India and Pakistan have been in a fighting mood forever. It has not been improved even after Narendra Modi became the prime minister. Modi initially wanted to improve the diplomatic relations with Pakistan but it did not work because Modi had been for improving the relations in his terms not in the equal terms.


In this political and diplomatic situation, KP Oli as a prime minister needs to run a strong independent foreign policy rather than bending to listen to Indian foreign minister or even prime minister. Oli did not do in the past but he did so this time even before he became a prime minister inviting Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj.


One of the successes of K P Oli as a prime minister lies on how successfully he would be able to open up the northern borders, and could use the land of the northern neighbor for having an access to the world for commerce, trade, industry and for everything so that Nepal did not need to pass through only the Indian territory.


Oli’s success also would be measured by whether China and Nepal would be linked by a railway line or not during his term of office. China is taking its railway line up to Kerung: a Chinese town bordering Nepal by 2020. Both China and Nepal have been hyping that the railway link would be extended to Kathmandu then Pokhara, and Bhirahava and Lumbini.


Recently, China has complained that the Nepalese authorities of Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba that ultimately quit office, making room for KP Oli to be a new prime minister have not responded the work on the railway link obviously not favoring the Chinese assistance in Nepal. Chairman of Nepal Workers and Peasants’ Party Narayan Man Bijukchhe said in one of his public speeches that whenever NC leaders like Deuba came to power, India encroached on the Nepalese territory and harassed the Nepalese exporters stating the example of the recent media reports on India encroaching on the Nepalese territory and arbitrarily stopping several truckloads of ginger going to India. Unexpectedly stopping the trucks carrying the Nepalese products to India for whatever reasons has been a regular practice of the Indian border authorities.


Oli’s tasks as a prime minister would be to stop India encroaching on the Nepalese territory, and eliminating any whimsical decisions of the Indian authorities on stopping or letting the Nepalese export and import at the Indian border points. Then, Oli could claim as a strong nationalist that has saved Nepal from the capricious actions of the Indian authorities.


Now, concerning the socio-economic development of Nepal Oli has so explicitly committed to after the swearing-in ceremony, he needs to craft several laws, and then enact them into laws, and amend many laws so that these laws would less useful for the State employees to make the tools to earn legally. For example, State employees such as Gopal Khadka of NOC and Chudamani Sharma of Inland Revenue office could not escape from the irregularities they had committed to make the loss of billions of Nepalese rupees with impunity. Prime Minister Deuba had been so generous that he did not take troubles to look into the irregularity Gopal Khadka had committed.


In addition, Oli must make laws to make able to punish any ministers for the irregularities committed in the past or current period, and make the laws so that the Supreme Court could not hold on the cases of irregularities indefinitely. For example, the Supreme Court has been holding on the appeal on the irregularity case of former Minister Govinda Raj Joshi despite the fact that the Supreme Court needed to complete it within three months in general following the provision made in the constitution. However, the legal loophole here are the words “in general” that did not make the Supreme Court to finish the corruption case within three months and hold on indefinitely making Joshi to walk free even though the Special Court indicted and punished Joshi with imprisonment.


Now let us check what Oil did in the past. During the blockade India imposed on Nepal in 2015, to ease the lives of Nepalese, China provided 1.2 million liters of gasoline in grant and delivered it at the border area. This quantity of gasoline fetched more than NPR 120 million at the price of the product prevailing at that time. However, the then Prime Minister Oli did not bother to state publicly how the gasoline was used and where the money had gone from selling the gasoline.


As this gift of gasoline has come from the neighbor and it needed not to be registered as the State revenue, then the proceeds of selling the gasoline could go to anybody’s pocket. This sum of money must be quite helpful for the Oli’s party to win the elections so easily. So, Oli needs to publicly clear of such a doubt in the minds of the common folks how he used the gift of the gasoline China had given to Nepal so that he could prove he would be a corruption free rather than corruption proof prime minister in the country where every prime minister, and lawmaker simply made a lot of money and enjoyed their highly luxurious life style even though they were of the background of the destitute families. To prove this statement anybody could check the assets of five parliamentarians and even one minister such as Prime Minister Oli or Deuba or Prachanda or any other ministers anybody could name, as none of them had any ancestral property to inherit the property what they posses today.


Common folks anticipate Prime Minister Oli would keep his commitment to eliminate corruption and to make Nepal a prosperous country pulling out of the influence of the northern or southern neighbor. He has the people’s mandate on dosing so. The entire populace stood behind him in the past to face the challenge posed by the Indian sanction on Nepal in 2015, and Nepalese would do so whenever needed only Oli needed to be a strong prime minister that would do everything to stop corruption; then the development of the country would follow automatically. Corruption has been the main enemy of the common folks and had been cause of the poverty and destitute of the entire population.


February 16, 2018

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