Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Prachanda the turncoat

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At a time when the country is experiencing economic doldrums, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal "Prachanda" chose to show his true colours.

Unceremoniously breaking up with alliance partner CPN-UML, Prachanda revived the old coalition with Nepali Congress (NC). The two-month camaraderie with UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli was just a show for Prachanda. Just when the countrymen were expecting a stable government with left parties at the helm, Prachanda backstabbed Oli to revive the ideologically unholy alliance with NC.

The coalition government with Prachanda at the helm and supported by UML was starting to take good steps to stabilize the economy. Then Minister of Finance Bishnu Prasad Paudel was trying to reduce unnecessary government expenses and create a positive environment for the business sector.

But in his haste to rejoin hands with Nepali Congress, Prachanda meted out disgraceful treatment to UML ministers. He stopped then Minister of Foreign Affairs Bimala Rai Paudyal to attend a UN meeting in Geneva and even threatened UML ministers to strip them of portfolio. UML couldn't remain in the government with such humiliation.

Prachanda's attempt to forge a new coalition government is already in trouble. Coalition partners are indulged in unnecessary bargaining and are creating factions to stake their strong claims for the plum posts. This situation doesn't augur well for the new government.

Nine different parties have come together to make the new government. They made an alliance during the elections for President. Nepali Congress, CPN Maoist Centre, Janata Samajwadi Party (JSP), CPN Unified Socialist, Janamat Party, Loktantrik Samjwadi Party (LSP), Nagarik Unmukti Party (NMP), Rastriya Janamorcha and Nepal Samajwadi Party are in the present coalition. Rastriya Swatantra Party has not given its final decision in joining the government although it voted in favour of present coalition's President candidate Ram Chandra Paudel who was subsequently elected.

These same parties have been preparing to vote together in Vice-president elections as well as during vote of confidence for PM Prachanda. But differences have emerged during the nomination of the Vice-president candidate. After JSP fielded two candidates for the post (later Pramila Yadav withdrew her candidacy), LSP, Janamat and NMP have agreed to build functional unity in order to keep JSP Chairman Upendra Yadav in size. This factionalism and cut-throat competition only proves that the present coalition will not sustain for a long time.

Importantly, common people have not experienced the presence of a government. Prachanda government is functioning just to levy heavy taxes on people while failing to provide meaningful service delivery. Commoners' trust on government is nil.

Barely three months have passed since the formation of new government but PM Prachanda does not exude any excitement and vigour. His first reaction after becoming the PM was that he would accomplish something new but so far people have not experienced anything new from his government. He will have a hard time keeping diverse coalition partners intact.

Prachanda's attempt to forge a new coalition government is already in trouble. Coalition partners are indulged in unnecessary bargaining and are creating factions to stake their strong claims for the plum posts.

Black-marketing, trafficking, price inflation, lack of service delivery and rampant corruption have negatively impacted the people. But Prachanda government has not done anything in trying to remove these evils. He had promised people that they would not have to stand in long lines for passport and national ID but that promise has not been fulfilled.

Meanwhile, transitional justice is becoming millstone around Prachanda's neck. Due to the unnecessary delay in transitional justice process, conflict victims are in immense pain. Prachanda himself has said that he is ready to take responsibility for 5,000 people's death during the conflict in which he was the supreme commander for the insurgent Maoists. Based on his statement, a case against him is sub judice at the Supreme Court.

Prachanda is trying to secure blanket amnesty for all conflict-related crimes but international community will not accept it. And having his cadres tried for those crimes and penalized will be politically unacceptable for Prachanda. This situation has stolen Prachanda's peace and he is unable to focus on governance issues.

UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli has recently passed an accurate remark about Prachanda. Oli said that Prachanda says one thing while does another thing. He looks leftwards while his target is rightwards. Prachanda's activities have proved Oli's remarks right. He made electoral alliance with a party but formed government with support from another party. He has now returned to the old alliance only two months after the formation of the government.

It is to be remembered that Prachanda had approached Oli with hat in hand after learning that UML and Nepali Congress were mulling over formation of new government. Both these parties were fed up with Prachanda's unstable character and the petty bargains made by small parties. Getting the whiff of UML-NC's probable alliance, Prachanda begged Oli for the support. Oli thought that Prachanda might have rectified his past mistakes and thus gave him full support. But Prachanda did away with basic morality and decency to backstab Oli.

Treating UML badly while joining hands with NC and various parties is Prachanda's bad move. This move has also jeopardized the possibility of left students' alliance in the upcoming Free Student Union elections. Left movement in Nepal would have scaled newer heights if students had made an alliance. It would have provided a beacon for the future leaders of the country.

Even if Prachanda and his Congressi friends are saying that this coalition will last till the next general elections, the longevity of this hotch-potch partnership is in serious doubt. It appears that the country will have flash elections in the coming months. Prachanda, the disruptor, needs to become irrelevant by then for the sake of the country.

Bista is a chairman candidate for ANNFSU in Free Student Union elections in Tribhuvan University Central Campus Kirtipur.

Published on 14 March 2023

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