In what may be described as the second largest anti-government protest, thousands of Nepali Congress cadres staged demonstrations across the country, including in Kathmandu on Monday. Nepali Congress could have deferred the mass demonstrations as the COVID-19 pandemic threat has not subsided, but this is beside the point here. People came out to the streets shouting slogans against the Nepal Communist Party government, rampant corruption, mishandling of the COVID-19 crisis and its authoritarian tendencies. Earlier this month, the country saw huge demonstrations demanding the restoration of monarchy and Hindu state. People's participation in both the protests is significantly high. This indicates the rising discontent against the functioning of the NCP government which is plagued by internal feud.
But the government does not seem to care. The government and the ruling party leaders have often dismissed such protests. They would have us believe that there is no public support for the kind of protests organized by Nepali Congress and pro-monarchy groups. This, as we have mentioned earlier, is a gross misreading of the situation. The frequency in which anti-government protests are taking place and the number in which people have started to participate in such protests must ring an alarm bell to the ruling parties.
The current government has not been able to do anything substantive on governance and service delivery in the last three years it has been in office. One after another corruption scandal is unfolding, and the government, instead of taking action against the corruption-accused, seems to be defending them. The government has not been able to provide fertilizers to the farmers on time, it has not even been able to ensure timely payment to the sugarcane farmers, who have been done a great injustice by the sugar mill owners and who, desperate and running out of patience, have once again come to Kathmandu to remind the government of its commitment to address their concerns.
While the public discontent is rising every single day, the focus of Prime Minister Oli and his co-chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal has been on nothing else but on managing (or rather exacerbating) the internal feud. PM Oli got a very controversial ordinance to change the existing procedures of appointing officials in constitutional bodies, the move for which he has been vehemently criticised across the political spectrum. It is as if the country has no other business. People are sick of PM Oli’s modus operandi and tired of hearing about and watching two chairmen of NCP trying to outdo each other. Yet, these two leaders do not seem to care. If the PM and ruling party leaders think that they can get away without being accountable to the people, let there be no illusion, public discontent will reach a boiling point. The government should take note of the fact that people are angry. Ruling NCP and the government may ignore the warning on the wall at the cost of their own peril.