Democratic conduct of the KP Sharma Oli government and its commitment toward rule of law have been deteriorating by the day. The communist government with two-third majority is becoming mean, narrow-minded and unrestrained instead of displaying generosity. The government’s standing is taking a toll as a result.
It has recently committed an unbecoming and irresponsible act by detaining Vice Chancellor (VC) of Nepal Sanskrit University Kul Prasad Koirala, who was leaving for Canada, from the airport. And PM Oli himself has been involved in such an unseemly act.
The team of professors from Nepal Sanskrit University had got the foreign visit approved from the previous government. It had applied with the office of the pro-chancellor, the Education Ministry, for approval of leave.
The government can deem the visit unnecessary and extravagant. That is its prerogative. Chancellor or pro-chancellor could have refused to grant leave. The visit would have been cancelled with a two-word comment on the VC’s application. He would not have gone abroad after that. His detention at the airport would have been justified had he defied the government and tried to leave at government expenses.
But the government sat on that application. It sent the police to detain the VC when he reached the airport to fly to Canada. Nobody is taking responsibility for sending the police. But it is not difficult to guess who did. The police took him to the PM’s official residence in Baluwatar stating the chancellor wishes to meet him. Nobody dares to detain VC of a university from the airport without instruction of the PM.
Neither the chancellor nor a responsible government official met the VC at Baluwatar. He was freed once the plane he was scheduled to board took off.
Why was the PM inclined to humiliate a professor instead of establishing system?
The all-powerful PM who is dreaming about ‘Prosperous Nepal, Happy Nepalis’ seems to enjoy taking a dig at others and humiliating them.
PM Oli has slighted Dr Govinda KC saying an ’employee’ should remain in discipline after the latter started his 15th fast-unto-death demanding reform in medical education. He has said one individual cannot determine who should be given affiliation, and he will not accept that.
The general public knows very well that the biggest ’employees’ are politicians and they have abused their position, government and power for personal interest the most. The luxurious lifestyle most of the leaders lead today is a result of that abuse.
Dr KC is a sage doing his job. He does not have his personal life and expectations. He does not have anything to do other than service. He has taken the rebellious path of hunger strike only after feeling the pulse of the impoverished Nepalis from remote parts who are deprived of health services, and seeing the malpractices in the name of medical colleges in Kathmandu and the connivance of politicians in that.
The then Sushil Koirala government, which included the then CPN-UML, formed a five-member task force under Kedar Bhakta Mathema to probe the malpractices in the medical education sector and suggest measures to address them only after Dr KC’s seventh fast-unto-death.
Former deans of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) Dr Madan Kuamr Upadhyay and Dr Ramesh Kanta Adhikari, former executive director of Patan Hospital Dr Arjun Karki, and former executive director of Ganga Lal Hospital Dr Bhagawan Koirala were the other members in the task force.
Dr KC has already staged seven fasts after that mainly for implementation of the task force’s report. Dr KC, therefore, has not arbitrarily said who should be given affiliation and who should not be as PM Oli claims. Nor is he determined to make decisions in a way to benefit businessmen close to him and big donors like the politicians are.
Why is the PM trying to bend such a simple fact? Why is the government so narrow-minded?
The government has displayed utter disregard to system and narrow-mindedness in many latest deeds and not just the cases of VC Koirala and Dr KC.
Voluntary retirement of civil servants is another similar example. The last parliament including even those parties currently in the government had passed a law about voluntary retirement of staffers.
But General Administration Minister Lal Babu Pandit started to publicly malign civil servants once the communist parties formed the government, and threatened the staffers who ‘do not want to work’ to resign. He has vilified the staffers who opted for voluntary retirement complying with the law and procedure formulated by the state. He did not even respect the rights of the staffers for voluntary retirement as specified by the law until that law is amended.
There are many more examples of the current government interpreting issues clearly stated in the constitution and laws as it pleases and violating them.
The two big communist parties took an unconstitutional stand immediately after the election. They demanded they be allowed to form the government even before the Election Commission (EC) published the final results of the National Assembly and the House of Representatives. They stated that their provincial assembly members will not take oath of office from provincial chiefs recommended by the Sher Bahadur Deuba government despite the constitution clearly stating that swearing-in of provincial assembly members cannot happen without appointment of provincial chiefs.
National Assembly cannot be elected without provincial assembly members casting vote and final results of HoR cannot be announced before National Assembly results to pave the way for formation of the new government.
The left parties relented after refusing to budge for a long time, and the new government was ultimately formed.
But arbitrary interpretation of the constitution has not stopped.
The act related to political parties clearly states that any new party must have one-third female representation in the central committee for registration with the EC. But the Communist Party of Nepal (CPN), formed after unification of the then UML and CPN (Maoist Center), was registered violating that provision. Chairman Oli instructed those speaking against that inside his party to stop talking annoyingly, and they complied.
The constitution, similarly, clearly states that speaker and deputy speaker should be from different parties. But both the speaker and deputy speaker are not ready to quit even after unification of the two left parties.
Former Constituent Assembly (CA) chairman and CPN leader Subas Chandra Nembang has comically argued that they need not resign as both of them have already quit the party despite the act related to political parties clearly stating that resignation by speaker and deputy speaker from the party in decorum does not count as quitting the party. There would be no need to put the provision requiring speaker and deputy speaker from different parties if they were to be considered not affiliated to any party.
It is not that Nembang and other CPN leaders do not know that. But Nembang is ready to sacrifice his commitment toward the constitution and his legal understanding to keep both the positions with his party. The whole party is ready for that.
The government that is ready to knowingly cross constitutional and legal limits for its petty interest becomes ungenerous and arbitrary, and starts to take ungenerous and arbitrary decisions.
The government’s insistence to stop demonstrations at Maitighar Mandala and allow demonstrations at only the places it has specified is another arbitrary and ungenerous decision.
It is fundamental right of the citizens to peacefully assemble and demonstrate guaranteed by the constitution. Allowing demonstrations only at the places specified by the government is definitely not the spirit of constitution.
The government argues that one cannot protest at any place one pleases, and claims that such freedom is not allowed in any other country. But it has prohibited demonstrations at the very places in Kathmandu where the citizens were protesting and expressing displeasure with the government in the past few years in a planned manner.
Demonstrations are staged in front of the government’s nose the world over. That is accepted in a democracy. One can, therefore, stage demonstrations in front of the president’s office in the United States and the parliament in the United Kingdom.
Demonstrations are prohibited at both these places in Nepal. The government has made an unreasonable decision to prohibit demonstrations even at Maitighar now.
The government’s standing is deteriorating by the day due to its propagandist attitude in development, compromises in governance, disregard to rule of law, negligence toward the issues of public interest and encroachment of civil rights.
But it is not too late yet. The government had better mend its ways and focus on its duties.