November 18, 2019 09:10 AM NPT
For many months now, Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli has been considering changing some of the ministers in his cabinet in the face of growing public criticisms against the government. Indeed, some ministers have landed in controversies. Minister of Physical Infrastructure and Transport Raghubir Mahaseth, for example, was in the limelight from the beginning of his tenure for his supposed role in impeding the implementation of the government decision to end syndicate and cartels in public transport. He is also said to have transferred the secretary working to enforce that decision. PM Oli was not seen to interrogate him over the matter, let alone holding him to account. Then there is Drinking Water and Sanitation Minister Bina Magar, who is said to be responsible for impeding the completion of Melamchi Drinking Water project though the construction works of this project had almost come to an end. As a matter of fact, even some ministers of good track record, from whom people had expected substantial changes, have not been able to perform well, despite the fact that PM Oli had his ministers sign the work performance contract in August, apparently to make them accountable to their duties. But with lack of timely follow-up, the performance contract has not been able to bear fruits.
In this context, reshuffling the cabinet seems to be one good option before the prime minister. To this end, he has been increasing consultations with party leaders. For the moment, however, the PM seems to have put reshuffle idea on hold due, mainly, to by-polls on November 30. Apparently, the ruling party believes that cabinet reshuffle on the eve of by-polls could affect the election outcomes. Ruling party has made by-polls a prestige issue and looks determined to win them. But that is beside the point here. What the PM should consider, when he goes for reshuffle option, is that mere change of ministers in the cabinet is not going to contribute to improved governance. Here are a couple of issues the PM needs to consider.
First, the new ministers he will pick have to be from among those who have had very good track of delivery or who are committed to ensure delivery. Most of the times, PMs pick the candidates based on personal loyalty of those candidates. This is the path he should avoid. Besides, if reshuffling is only meant for inducting the members from dissenting faction within the party or just to maintain the power balance within the party, that will not help the PM to realize the stated goal of improving delivery. In the parliamentary system, cabinet reshuffle is the prerogative of the PM. But while picking the new members, the PM should not be guided by factional loyalty. He should choose such candidates who will be able to properly deliver and demonstrate competence to make the difference in people’s lives. If the reshuffle is for the mere show off, it might prove to be another futile exercise of the government to prove its relevance. People want to experience change in government’s delivery. Only committed and sincere leaders can meet such expectations.