With the second innings of CPN (UML) Chairman KP Sharma Oli as the 41st Prime Minister in Singh Durbar, various expectations have been expressed across the political spectrum. Oli has various challenges ahead and he has to identify those challenges and address them properly, keeping national interest in centre.
Oli is the first elected prime minister of Nepal after the state adopted federal set up, leaving behind long existing centralised mechanism. There are seven governments in seven provinces and hundreds of governments in local levels. All are powerful in their own stance and position. Therefore, the central government led by Oli only needs to monitor them as per the need.
PM Oli has clear mandate and strong back force to lead the nation on the way to prosperity and stability. He will lead the nation without any obstruction if the ongoing merger process between his party CPN- UML and CPN-Maoist Centre gets concrete shape within a few days. If the merger gets materialised, the key posts like President, Vice President, Prime Minister, House Speaker, Deputy Speaker, Chairman of National Assembly (Upper House) will be assumed by the single party which will further help stabilise the process, thus lessening the political tussle.
Out of seven provinces, the left alliance led by the UML has formed government in six provinces (except Province 2) which will be a plus point for Oli-led government to implement the central policy.
Along with these positive boasts, PM Oli has to manage internal and external policy. An orator, he has adequate chances to transform oratory into action as he tried to do in the past as well but failed to move ahead being overconfident and undermining internal and external power plays.
While analysing his first premiership, we find that he persuaded all to dream, awaken, and maintain dignity and not to bow to foreigners. He maintained his nationalist stance against border blockade imposed by India and reached out to China to open new transit route and welcome Chinese railway to Nepal for connectivity.
Oli’s stance and importance during the recent blockade was highly appreciated by Nepalis which even compelled India to correct the course. His future step is closely being watched by all as it is linked with country’s stability and prosperity.
Most of the Nepalis are aware of Indian strategy. Our southern neighbour wants to continue its hegemonic presence in Nepal. However, India can do this because of our defeated psychology and divided interests. Previous governments have been playing China or India card but both cards are ineffective unless Nepal plays national card of stability and prosperity.
A country cannot blame others for its failings in global politics. Neither the hard power nor soft powers received from others help country win the race. We need our own ‘smart power’ to influence others and pitch our national interest to the world. We cannot maintain our supremacy unless we put our ideas strongly in interdependent world system.
Oli should deliver strong messages to India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi that Nepal is no longer a passive listener. Nepal is ready to hold active dialogues with India for the betterment of both countries. Oli should say that we are good friend of India rather a special friend. Our landlocked status should be a boon as we want to link lands. Our concern is peace, prosperity and mutual respect for all and we expect the same from others. We respect others’ sovereignty and expect the same. Oli should work with India to settle the Indo-Nepal border permanently and ask India to return Nepali territory encroached upon by the southern neighbour.
In fact, Oli made efforts to this effect during his earlier tenure. However, it was enough for him to gain popularity. But Oli cannot forever reap the fruits of such popularity as people expect actions, not emotions from him. People are expecting prosperity, stability, good governance and zero corruption in each state mechanism from Oli-led government.
Oli has the challenges to implement the constitution, allocate resources, maintain harmonious relations with provincial and federal government, assume the guardianship among provincial governments, balance neighbourhood policy, and materialise various treaties made in his erstwhile tenure.
The foremost challenge is to materialise the party merger process and to lessen intra-party group-ism. Another challenge is to reform the national economy and boost Nepal’s GDP and to stop brain drain which is ruining the national pride.
To achieve these goals, PM Oli should forge consensus with all political parties, even bringing main opposition Nepali Congress in confidence.
The second premiership of Oli is his acid test. How Oli moves ahead and treats southern and northern neighbours keeping national interest in centre is to be seen. Good results could be seen within few months if Oli treads the right path.
The writer is a foreign policy enthusiast.