Just four months after Congress-CPN-UML coalition was in place, RPP-N leader Kamal Thapa declared the government doesn’t exist. “People have not felt the presence of government” he told this daily. “If you describe ministers taking ride in flag studded cars on the streets as the mark of government presence, maybe there is one. But if you talk about performance in delivery and governance, it’s like the country does not have a government.” Others in the opposition bench—UCPN (Maoist) and Madheshi parties—have started to echo him. Politicians use ‘no-government’ rhetoric, often while not in power, to stay relevant and sound pro-people. Congress and UML used to say the same thing about Maoist governments in the past. But is there no government presence on the ground? The question requires a response from a plebeian perspective. It would be worthwhile to restate who needs the government and why first.
A group of men who constitute a government are, in fact, actors entrusted to run the state, protect its citizens from dangers, and ease their living because they have elected it and paid taxes. A commoner needs a government for affordable food, check on black marketing, to send their children to good school, for good hospitals and if one or all of these conditions are breached, the government intervenes to hold the wrongdoers to account. It is those who cannot take care of themselves—the poor and low-income people—who need the government the most. Perceptions matter in politics, sometimes more than reality. Judging by above standards, common perception today is that the government has long been conspicuously absent in Nepal. Recent incidents suggest the same.