It goes without saying that CPN Maoist Center Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal has taken office amidst challenging circumstances. Madheshi and Janajati forces voted for him only after Nepali Congress and Maoist coalition agreed to their three-point demands that included declaring those killed during the Madhesh movement as martyrs, providing due compensation and free treatment to those injured in the movement and withdrawing “false cases” against cadres of Madheshi forces. They had also agreed to resolve number and delineation of provinces through constitution amendment “based on the consensus of political parties.” We sincerely hope that he will be able to build minimum required consensus among the parties to end over-one-year-long standoff between Kathmandu and Tarai Madhesh.
Early indications are positive. The first meeting of Dahal’s cabinet has identified four areas as top priorities and vowed to address them. The announcement of special campaign called “the government with the poor” with special focus on livelihood, education, health, insurance, technology transfer, employment, self-employment, integration of local market and banking and food security is the step in the right direction. The plan is to first carry out a detailed study to identify the poor people and implement programs with a view to uplift their living standards. The new government has also announced that first installment of housing grant to 533,000 earthquake victims will be distributed within the next 45 days. The decision to provide Rs 100,000 to the relative of those who died in the recent incidents of floods and landslides will help alleviate their sufferings. He has also directed concerned ministries and the government bodies to start taking steps for implementing these programs. He has promised to depute doctors at all Primary Health Centers within three months, motivate the families from Dalit communities and from Karnali to register births of their newborns by providing cash incentive of Rs 1,000 each. Most importantly, his government has taken the decision to provide Rs 1 million each to the families of those killed during the Madhesh movement, apart from treatment to the injured. The process of releasing those detained during the Madhesh movement, we are told, has been initiated.
These are welcome steps. It should be noted that PM Dahal had vociferously demanded providing reconstruction grants to the earthquake victims at the earliest. He has come to power with clear agenda of addressing Madheshis’ demands and expediting reconstruction works. The government of K P Oli had been criticized by Nepali Congress and Maoist Center for failing on these vital fronts. Governments in the past have made too many promises but failed to deliver. This should not be the case with the new government. Dahal has a lot to do in the next nine months. Like his first stint in 2008, he has multiple challenges on political as well as governance fronts. His success will depend on how effectively he will deliver on those promises. We wish the new PM all the best.