Failed leadership

Published On: October 20, 2020 09:25 AM NPT

This is how Oli-led government is failing the country and the people.

The K P Sharma Oli-led government has made it clear: Our hope for the better days, and timely delivery of services was just an illusion. There is a widespread worry and rage across the spectrum that the government is there not to serve the people but to dole out the state funds to ministers and lawmakers, pick and choose ministers now and again, not because the existing ones are not performing well and the new members would do better but because the PM has one or other members to accommodate in the cabinet, so that there is no dissent against him inside the party. Nearly every new minister starts presenting himself like an arrogant and inconsiderate person with no care for the people.  In nearly two and half years since the government was formed, the cabinet has been reshuffled for a number of times, but there is not a single minister whom you can hold to esteem for doing something substantive.

The government of K P Sharma Oli is crossing the limits in being indifferent and undermining the people. This government’s willful ignorance as the country and the people struggle to survive the worst crisis in recent memories is breathtaking. 

We reached this conclusion after witnessing a couple of events this week.

First, the government distributed salary and Dashain ‘bonuses’ to the lawmakers and ministers nearly two weeks before the Dashain festival started. This is not an issue to complain about in normal times. Every public office, even some private ones, provides additional money to their employees during Dashain. This has remained a longstanding practice. And this time around, too, giving Dashain allowance would not be objectionable—provided that the government had brought out tangible relief packages for the people who are losing jobs and income. Now is the time when a majority of people are literally struggling to make their ends meet. Now is the time when the frontline health workers and security personnel have not been given the additional perks they were promised. 

These are the times when people are dying of COVID-19 mainly because our hospitals are overwhelmed, underequipped and underfunded—public hospitals failing to serve the rising number of Covid patients, and the private ones being too expensive for the general people. The government did not hesitate to send the bonus money to the lawmakers and ministers. If the government had initiated a discussion with lawmakers of other parties, there would have been a consensus and it would send a message that the government still cares about the people. After public outrage, both Nepali Congress and Nepal Communist Party decided to deposit the allowance money in the government’s Covid Fund. 

The announcement from the spokesperson from the Ministry of Health that, from now on, the government will not bear the expenses related to COVID-19 and that the people will have to fend for themselves, in a tone that is bereft of mercy, is extremely irresponsible and infuriating. This is against the constitutionally guaranteed fundamental rights and the directives issued by the Supreme Court of Nepal. A responsible government would never do that.

Understandably, during times like the global pandemic, governments fail to provide services to the people like in normal times.  Exceptions apart, nearly all the countries in the world have struggled to combat the COVID-19 and its fallout and people have suffered. But they at least appear to do something for the people—giving assurances, sending the message that the government is there for them. In our case, what is so disappointing and enraging is the government is uncaring, insensitive and unresponsive and is taking decisions that are illegal. Worst of all, it does not seem to care that people are closely watching the government activity. The Oli government should remember that when the government does not fear the people, the people will rise to displace the government.


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