Editorial: Act fast and save people’s lives

NL Today

  • Read Time 3 min.

In what could go down as a rare occurrence in Nepal’s political history, the Prime Minister who lost parliament’s confidence and became a caretaker for two days, has become the Prime Minister again. K P Oli was bound to be, given the ‘divide and play’ strategy he was using.  Nepali Congress and Maoist Center were in no position to consolidate the majority. They had to take either the whole of Janata Samajwadi Party Nepal or some of the disgruntled leaders from CPN-UML on their fold.  Neither was possible. A faction of JSPN led by Rajendra Mahato and Mahantha Thakur were hell-bent on supporting Oli. It would be political suicide for Madhav Nepal faction to defect. Oli took advantage of this situation. We wish you all the best, Mr Prime Minister.

Prime Minister Oli is averse to public criticisms, even good advice. But as the country is reeling under untold sufferings due to Covid-19 pandemic, he must be told some of the things loud and clear. Hundreds of people are dying and thousands are writhing in pain because they have not found hospital beds, oxygen and lifesaving medicines. For those suffering and those watching them with horror, Oli’s reappointment will mean absolutely nothing, if he cannot make a visible difference in the country’s health system within a couple of days.  There is a widespread resentment against the PM and the government this time because despite having a lot of time for preparation, the government was fully invested in persecuting the dissidents in the coalition partner and within his party. As Nepal Live Today’s comprehensive report shows, when he had a lot of time for expanding infrastructure of our health system, Oli was ridiculing people who spoke of Covid-19 seriously, he made fun of the parliamentarians who reminded him of the urgency of the situation, and kept prescribing scientifically unproven remedies. People are paying back to his foolhardy remedies with their lives. This tendency has completely eclipsed the humanity of the PM, and completely overshadowed some positive steps that had been initiated in between. 

Oli’s concentration should be on Covid control from this moment itself. Use all the resources, make appeals, make phone calls to the government heads of friendly nations, ask for help, do everything.

This time around, the country needs the PM in a different avatar, for effective Covid response and ensuring good governance. In three years, PM presented himself as a person who insulted his colleagues, who ridiculed rational suggestions, who saw media as the problem, who defied science and who presented himself as a master of all. That hubris has done more harm to the country, including himself, than good. 

Oli’s concentration should be on Covid control from this moment itself. Use all the resources, make appeals to all the countries which can provide resources, mobilize all the ambassadors serving in different countries, make phone calls to the government heads of friendly nations, ask for help, do everything. As the people are suffering, the government is often blamed for doing nothing better than counting the dead bodies. We would suggest that from today itself, the government should start daily press briefing to inform the people how many oxygen cylinders have been produced/procured and supplied to hospitals, how many new ICU beds and ventilators have been added, how many temporary hospitals have been set up, how many lives have been saved. The government should come up with a progress report every day. Anything less than concentrated and proactive efforts might be a recipe for complete chaos. This is the opportunity for Oli to present himself as a leader who mended his way and put serious efforts to save people’s lives, not as a demagogue whose goal was to hold on to power by any means, every means.