Whether Deuba goes for elections with or without the RJP will determine the success or failure of his fourth tenure as PM
Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba finally inducted 19 new ministers into his cabinet this week, after delaying because of the need to strengthen his hold in Parliament to pass bills and amendments. The commission to delineate new electoral constituencies, a pre-requisite to provincial elections, has begun its work on a tight deadline. Finally, there seems to be a little light to dispel the gathering darkness.
Three elections have to be held: the third phase of local polls in Province 2, provincial and parliamentary elections — all before January 2018. With the RPP left out, the NC-Maoist coalition would not be able to secure a two-thirds majority for amending the Constitution. Without the amendment, the RJP is threatening to boycott future polls.
Deuba has already told RJP leaders that the amendment is not possible before elections, but some RJP hardliners think the PM hasn’t pushed hard enough and are threatening to revive their agitation. Whether Deuba goes for elections with or without the RJP will determine the success or failure of his fourth tenure as PM.
Delineation of constituencies is a thorny issue. The main opposition UML on Thursday warned that no party or leader’s undue interests must be reflected in electoral boundaries. It is Deuba’s duty to ensure that former Justice Kamal Narayan Das’s commission independently delineates constituencies.
The government has other headaches. Health crusader Govinda KC is on another fast unto death. Past governments have always agreed to his demands, but have never been in power long enough to implement them. Deuba will make similar promises, but will only earn praise if KC’s demand for a new medical education bill is passed.
Deuba is hoping to visit India next month amidst tension between New Delhi and Beijing over the border in Bhutan. Some foreign policy experts have advised the PM not to antagonise China by visiting India at this sensitive time. But it seems the PM is determined to go.
Deuba’s Foreign Affairs Advisor Dinesh Bhattarai is silent about his boss’ India visit, but says: “Now that he has a full cabinet, the PM will gear up on his priority, that is to forge a broader consensus for implementation of the Constitution.”
Shadow government, Editorial
Bhutan-Nepal bhai-bhai?, Kanak Mani Dixit
21 January 2018, Editorial