Nepali Times
From The Nepali Press
Has Deuba learnt from his mistakes?

Excerpts from an interview with Madhav Kumar Nepal, UML leader
What changes do you expect the new prime minister to make?

Let us all pray that he will bring about change. We should give him a chance. Sher Bahadur Deuba has got his chance so let him work. His last stint as Prime Minister was very bitter and unsuccessful-in that period, everything went from bad to worse. He let the rot set in. During his tenure, parliament and democracy both earned a bad reputation.

Has he learnt anything from that? We will only know once he forms his cabinet. Will he compromise to hold on to his position and form a 44-member cabinet? If he goes back to his old ways-forms a nonsense cabinet filled with cronies, starts suppressing the opposition, and simply does not work to fulfil the expectations of the people-he will definitely not be successful.

He will only succeed if he learns from his mistakes, open himself to new ways of thinking and tries to reverse the damage done in the last 12 years. He should amend the constitution and bring about positive change in all sectors of society. He should make people realise that democracy is for the people and make decisions that will benefit the poor and the nation as a whole. He must strengthen the police and the armed forces, make the judiciary more independent and accountable. He must control corruption, punish wrongdoers, and form an all-party government to conduct elections. He needs to bring about major reforms in the agricultural sector. He must stop discrimination on the basis of gender, religion, caste, and language. He should strengthen the office of Prime Minister and introduce a system of checks and balances. If he can do all this, I will consider him successful.

The UML's one-point agenda, Koirala's resignation, has side-tracked all other issues. Now that Koirala is out, what will happen to those issues?
We discussed this issue and have decided how the problems of the country can be addressed. We have demanded immediate, serious and positive changes in the political, economic, social, educational, administrative and judicial sectors. We strongly believe that to do this we need to bring about changes in the constitution. This is the need of the hour. If the nation is to move forward politically, then it is vital that our proposals be implemented. We couldn't put our ideas forward because Koirala refused to resign, and country just went from bad to worse. His resignation has opened the doors for progress and for making corrections. Now the new prime minister must work to this end. Whether he can is a different issue. He is still repeating Koirala's 14-point program, when the reality is quite different now. We've presented the government with our 22-point program on different occasions. If the new Prime Minister is unaware of them, he should now familiarise himself with them.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)