KATHMAMDU, May 4: President Bidya Bhandari’s choice of the phrase ‘mero sarkar’ (my government) while unveiling the government policy and program in parliament on Friday has met with criticism ‘for using words like the monarchs’.
Politicians and civil society members criticized the president for acting as if she was presenting a budget on behalf of her own government just like the kings in the past. The kings used to speak of ‘my government’ or ‘our government’ while presenting the policy and program of the government in parliament.
But this tradition was discontinued when Girija Prasad Koirala presented the policy and program in the reinstated parliament in 2007, following the abolition of the monarchy. Republican Nepal’s first president Ram Baran Yadav and his successor both used wording like ‘the government’ or ‘Nepal government’ until last year.
But this year, President Bhandari has used the words ‘my government’ a total of 21 times during her nearly two-hour speech in parliament. Many felt taken back to the days of monarchy. Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba said while emerging from the House that ‘it would have been better if she had spoken of the Nepal government’.
“I attended parliament to hear the policy and program of the Nepal government but it sounded like the president was presenting the program of her own government,” NC lawmaker Gagan Thapa tweeted in the midst of the president’s speech.
Writer Milan Bagale tweeted ‘....Is this a royal government to call it my government? It should have been Nepal government. Who writes such a silly speech and she should have felt some discomfort reciting it.”
The government endorses the policy and program through the cabinet to be presented by the president in parliament. Asked whether the government took a decision to use such wording from this year, government spokesman Gokul Baskota declined to comment. “You can ask other ministers about this. Actually I am busy at a marriage function,” he told Republica.
Citing the use of the phrase ‘my government’ by the Indian president, some social media users have argued that comparisons should not be made with the monarchy. But former government secretary Rameshore Khanal explained on Twitter that the contexts in India and Nepal are different given the differing constitutional provisions. According to him, the Indian constitution states that the executive power of the union shall be vested in the president while Nepal’s constitution has envisioned sovereignty and state power as being vested in the people.
Rabindra Mishra, coordinator of Sajha Bibeksheel Party, has termed the use of ‘my government’ irresponsible and against the democratic spirit.