Politics of amnesia: Opposition UML lambasts the government on the same charges labeled against it while in power

Around six months in power, the coalition government led by Sher Bahadur Deuba has ruled the country in such a way main opposition leader KP Sharma Oli is now in the position to question its integrity and intention

NL Today

  • Read Time 6 min.

Kathmandu: Until a few months ago, leaders from the incumbent ruling alliance used to dub KP Sharma Oli, erstwhile Prime Minister and Chairperson of Nepal’s largest communist party CPN (UML), as an ‘authoritarian’ leader, with no regard for constitutional, political and democratic processes, whose sole focus, they said, was on consolidating power, protecting the corruption accused, mishandling Covid-19 response, spoiling relations with India, China and the US and so on. 

As a matter of fact, the leaders belonging to Nepali Congress, Maoist Center, CPN(Unified Socialist) and Janata Samajwadi Party (JSP)–the parties of which  the current  coalition is composed–used to question Oli’s commitment to democratic values such as sacred principles of checks and balances and separation of powers. 

They held Oli responsible for poor public service delivery, poor Covid response and management, diplomatic failure, and rampant corruption. 

Six months later, KP Sharma Oli, the main opposition leader, has thrown back all those allegations toward the ruling alliance, in a more fierce note and with more credible evidence. In the statement issued by CPN(UML) on Sunday, Oli has hit back at this government with charges of failure on multiple fronts. The conclusion of the opposition party is that Deuba’s government has become a complete failure in six months.

What’s in the statement?

The country is heading toward a deep crisis, the principle of separation of powers has been breached, the country’s economy is in ruins, diplomatic relationship and security situation has been facing serious problems, Covid response has been a mess.  These are the major allegations with which UML chief Oli has lambasted the government. UML has presented criticisms in 15 points.

1. Alliance parties contributing to erosion and debasement of judiciary: UML has heavily criticized the judiciary in its first point. ‘There is a tendency that the court gives verdict at the behest of some people and political leaders ensuring ‘share’ [in return of the verdict]. The country is paying the price of this type of undemocratic, unconstitutional and anti-people collusion between the judiciary and political leaders,’ reads the statement. The statement has openly alleged that there was apparent collusion between some leaders and the Supreme Court officials. Extreme anarchy and protest by the judges have created a situation where people’s fundamental right to justice including that of the cases related to habeas corpus have been impeded, says the statement.

[Related: Six months in power: Deuba Government has been a monumental failure

2. Role of Speaker Sapkota: The main opposition has termed the role of Speaker of the House of Representatives Agni Sapkota as unconstitutional, non-parliamentary and against the dignity of his position. In the statement, the UML has said that the Speaker, himself, is involved in dividing political parties, which is against the dignity of his position. This resulted in House obstruction, it says. “The voice of the main opposition is unheard and ignored,” says the statement, adding the parliamentary practice to lead the Public Accounts Committee by the main opposition is also neglected.

3. The government has been a complete failure: The statement has categorically charged the government of failure to ensure minimum duties envisaged by the constitution. “The government has failed to safeguard national interest, been perplexed in Covid response and failed to deliver minimum relief to the people,” alleges the statement. “The government is pushing the country toward the path of failure.”

4. Economy in doldrums: Summarizing the current economic situation, the opposition party has said that all economic indicators show the dire situation of the country’s economy. The statement has also raised concern over development  pace, saying that it is ‘stalled’.

5. Disbalance and deviation on diplomatic front: The opposition has blamed the government of coming to power with assurance of being ‘comfortable’ to foreigners and charged that the government has been mute spectator while national interest is continuously compromised. The statement has raised the issue of Kalapani, Lipulekh and Limiyadhura and the government’s indifference to resolve the issue. Similarly, the opposition party has accused the government of unilaterally forming an investigation committee to study border issues with China despite the fact that all the border disputes with China had already been resolved. 

Probably for the first time as an opposition party leader, KP Sharma Oli has made his stand on MCC Compact clear. “Contradictory statements from the leaders of the ruling alliance have played a role in making development projects an issue of geopolitical conflict,” reads the statement. Leaders have been showing double standards by saying one thing with US officials and quite the opposite thing to the party cadres. “It is ridiculous to form a committee to study the Compact that was signed by the leaders of the ruling parties themselves,” says the statement.

[Related: From baseless remedies to lies: How KP Oli botched the pandemic response?]

6. Local polls on time: The constitution of Nepal has not imagined the local units being void. The Election Commission, as per the Constitution, has already proposed to the government to hold local level polls in April. However, the ruling alliance has been interpreting the Constitution in their own way. They [the ruling alliance] have been wrongly interpreting the Article 225 of the Constitution of Nepal. The CPN-UML is clear that the government must hold the local level polls as per the Constitution of Nepal, and any excuses of postponing the polls is not acceptable to the main opposition. 

7. What’s the intention?: When the CPN (UML) wanted for an early election, the current alliance termed it as an unconstitutional move. However, the same political parties are discussing to hold federal elections in April, 2022, a year early. “Is holding federal elections in April constitutional?,” the statement asks. “On what basis and logic is the ruling alliance discussing to hold early elections? If they [ruling alliance] decide to hold early elections, shouldn’t they apologize for their protests against UML’s decision?”   

8. Poor Covid response: The CPN-UML led government established almost 80 laboratories to conduct Covid-19 tests. Dozens of hospitals were set up for Covid-19 treatment. Beds were managed. However, this government has been irresponsible in combatting the pandemic. It doesn’t even have data of 2.5 million Covid-19 vaccines. Are they sold or hidden? Who is responsible for it? The recent shortage of syringes and cetamol in Nepal show how irresponsible the government has been.

9. Budget cut in public sector: The opposition has raised the issue of budget cuts even in the public health sector. The government is shying away from its responsibility of ensuring basic health to the public, states the statement. The government has not been successful in clearing liabilities of essential public sectors such as roads, irrigation and local infrastructure projects. 

[Related: How KP Oli is imperiling Nepali democracy]

10. Failure in keeping promises of Covid vaccine: The opposition has blamed the government of failing to live up with its own promise of vaccinating two thirds population by mid-January. The government has not been able to ensure effective supply, management, storage and distribution of the vaccines. While the government is not in the position to provide vaccines to all citizens, its provision of mandatory vaccine card for citizens to get public service is ridiculous and discriminatory, reads the statement. 

11. Risk allowance for health workers: The government has failed to provide risk allowance to health workers. Similarly, the government has demoralized public servants by transferring them on the basis of political ideology and keeping employees without responsibility. 

12. Super speciality center: The previous government had allocated Rs 500 million to construct a super speciality center at Kirtipur. Construction of the center was started with the aim of ending foreign travel for treatment of critical illness. This government has lowered the budget to Rs 100 million for that center. 

[Related: Lies, lies: The situation is not under control as claimed by PM Oli with CNN]

13. Cronyism and rent-seeking: The statement has also raised question over the government’s intention on Lalita Niwas land scam. Return of the investigation report on document forgery relating to the Lalita Niwas land grab scam to the police is a clear intention of the government not to take action against perpetrators, says the statement. There is a trend of using blackmail and intimidation as a tool of bargaining and political revenge, the opposition party has said. 

14. Relief to farmers: Farmers were affected as the crop was destroyed by untimely rains and families ravaged by natural calamities are still awaiting relief packages. The government must immediately provide a relief package to them, demands UML.

15. Impunity on the rise: Ruling alliance leaders are involved in covering incidents of serious human rights violation and institutionalizing impunity, reads the statement. “The alliance is reluctant to conclude transitional justice issues and to ensure justice to the victims.” Oli has dubbed the recent remark by sitting minister Renu Kumari Yadav to repeat ‘Gaur massacre’ as ‘deplorable, criminal and brutal’. It is deeply objectionable to still allow her to remain in the position of minister, says the statement.