PM Deuba’s defining moment

Published On: August 31, 2021 03:45 PM NPT By: Narayan Manandhar

Deuba’s fifth stint as the Prime Minister of Nepal may be brief but the unfolding of events, both national and international, reveals to be a defining moment for him.

People have not expected much from PM Deuba whose tenure may run for the coming 16 months at maximum. To be successful, literally, he does not need to do good things; he just needs to refrain from doing bad things.

In Nepali state administration, civil servants and their political masters are often blamed for doing nothing, playing sloth in the bureaucracy. There is a reason and rationality: If you do nothing, you lose chances of claiming rewards but you also avoid getting punishments. “Doing nothing” implies avoiding mistakes and when you commit no mistakes, no one can punish you. If I were a Deuba advisor, my honest advice to him would be  - do nothing, just pass time and go with the flow.

In fact, even after more than a month, he has not been able to give a full shape to his Cabinet. This gives an impression of “doing nothing”. Moreover, he is famous for his wishy-washy character. His moves are as much dabbling as his incongruous style of speaking.

Besides keeping intact the wobbling alliance of five political parties, he has his own house to clean, that is, holding the Nepali Congress (NC) party’S general convention within a month or so. This will decide the fate of a new leadership of his party. He must be having extreme political as well as time pressures both inside and outside political parties.

With the onset of coronavirus third wave and making vaccines available to all before next elections and the economy in tatters, he has to face a totally new, unexpected challenge – safely and swiftly rescuing Nepali workers, legal and illegal, documented and undocumented, expected to run 14,000 in total, currently working in Afghanistan.

Deuba’s fifth stint as the Prime Minister of Nepal may be brief but the unfolding of events, both national and international, reveals to be a defining moment for him.

Imagine the domino effect he has created by a single stroke of introducing an ordinance to amend the Political Party Act. He has not only brought havoc within two quibbling political parties, namely, CPN-UML and JSP but he has also cornered grumpy faced Madame President who used to be happy acting as PM Oli’s rubber stamp. Who knows this might totally change the political landscape of the country? After all, there is already the talk of Prachanda, Madhav Nepal, Baburam Bhattarai and Upendra Yadav forming a new political alliance, if not a new political outfit before next elections.

We are also observing the impacts on the provincial governments. We still have to feel and observe full repercussions of this ordinance. Deuba may look like a sojho manchhe or an asachham pradhanmantri, as his critics like to call him; but, for sure, he is proving himself to be a different man this time. May be he is taking a risk, may be because of his age and fag-end of his career he wanted to obliterate past errors, omissions and commissions. Maybe he has become a seasoned character. Who knows, maybe he wants to prove his astrologist wrong – no need to become the prime minister for the seventh occasion!

Two wrongs do not make one right; though the ordinance gives an impression of Deuba too following Oli footpath, the context is totally different. In a brisk moment of time to defend Deuba, Comrade Prachanda may argue, the difference between earlier ordinances issued by PM Oli and this ordinance issued by PM Deuba as a difference between death and life of loktantra. In politics, one must have the courage to call a “spade a spade”; this is purely designed to kill Oli and his elks. Basically, Oli is having a taste of his own medicine. Mr Gagan needs no pointing gun at Deuba.

The arrival of Deuba matches the supply of vaccines from so many countries. Even a tiny country like Bhutan is donating 300,000 doses of vaccines to Nepal. This is neither an accident nor a coincidence. Or even a happenstance. There must be a meaning in the message and the medium. Oli must be burning with jealousy.

Those ragtag MCC opponents here in Nepal, seeking to corner Deuba, should be careful watching the country behind - helping to rescue Nepali (security) workers from Afghanistan. It will not be a surprise if these rescued workers organized a rally at Maitighar supporting the Deuba Government, if not opposing MCC critics. This is a defining moment for Deuba.

It is also not sheer coincidence that the ex-Gurkha men have ended their fast-unto-death in London after the British Defence Ministry agreed to form a bilateral committee to resolve the issue.

Former PM Oli, challenging to have a parliamentary vote on MCC, will soon find another taste of his own medicine. Earlier, during his tenure, didn’t he challenge MCC opponents to read the document before coming for a debate? Didn’t he plead for its ratification without introducing amendments?

There will be another earthquake of a magnitude of nine on the Richter Scale when the Supreme Court annuls hundreds of appointments made by the Oli government to the constitutional bodies - mostly his henchmen and women. The clock is ticking. It will not be a long wait.

If events like these can unfold with a Cabinet of five, imagine the possibilities when he will have a full size Cabinet? This is a defining moment for PM Deuba. It is only Oli who is lonely dreaming to form a majority government after the next general elections. At the moment, everyone is occupied with their survival.


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