KATHMANDU, May 5: Amid widespread criticism over President Bidya Devi Bhandari's choice of words while unveiling the government's annual policies and programs in parliament, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has come to the president's defense.
A day after the head of state used the phrase 'my government' contrary to the past practice of using 'this government', PM Oli summoned a group of select journalists at his official Baluwatar residence and tried to play down the incident, saying the choice of words was not an issue for public debate.
While reading out the annual policies and programs of the government, President Bhandari had spoken repeatedly of 'mero sarkar' (or my government), which is at variance with the past practice of using the phrase 'this government'.
Politicians including a section from the ruling Nepal Communist Party have come down heavily on President Bhandari and the government over the matter. Some of the critics compared the president with past monarchs and demanded a correction.
“She used the phase 'my government' as per international practice. It's not an issue at all,” said Oli to the journalists, adding, “In her capacity of head of state it is her government.”
The premier urged critics to take the president's choice of the phrase in a wider sense.
“Generally, I say my country. When I say my country it does not mean it's not anybody else's country. It's a matter of pride[ in one's country],” said Oli.
He also accused media of failing to understand international practice. “Let's forget about other countries, even the president of neighboring India uses the phrase 'my government' while addressing the Indian parliament,” Oli said.
The premier expressed his dissatisfaction with those comparing the president with monarchs. “Since we have just started living under a federal republican system some intellectuals felt as if the president was behaving like a monarch. But they shouldn't feel that way . Nepal is a republic, period,” he said .
Stating that his government has expedited development projects, Oli said the main opposition Nepali Congress and other parties are criticizing the government and its policies and programs just for the sake of their own political existence. He urged the opposition parties to say if there was anything that they could not understand in the policy and programs instead of just criticizing them .
Oli cited progress in the construction of the Bheri-Babai Diversion Multipurpose Project, a 6.5 percent economic growth prediction and action against those involved high-profile corruption cases as major successes of his government.