Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai has announced that he would visit a village every month and stay overnight to listen to people’s grievances. Though a populist measure, going to the people to learn about their problems is a welcome step. But the majority of people now want something more. As the prime minister has already become caretaker after the Constituent Assembly’s term expired on May 27, his focus should be on listening to the grievances of the country’s major political forces. The opposition Nepali Congress and CPN-UML and a section of his own party led by vice chairman Mohan Baidya have time and again called for his resignation to pave the way for a government of national consensus.
The prime minister’s intention of moving ahead alone is not what the people want at this moment. His effort to bring three ordinances without the parties’ consent is wrong. Twenty-six parties, including the NC and CPN-UML, on Tuesday jointly urged President Ram Baran Yadav not to approve any ordinance brought without political consensus, accusing the government of conspiring to run the country through ordinances. The meeting of the opposition parties concluded that the government’s decision was “unconstitutional” and vowed to thwart any such move. The opposition’s call came soon after Finance Minister Barsha Man Pun held a meeting with the president on the government’s preparations to bring a new budget through ordinance. Pun clearly told the president that the government was all set to unveil a full-fledged budget, stating that inability to come up with complete fiscal programs would be against the interests of the country. The president, however, asked the finance minister to bring the new budget with political consensus and also to take account the CA elections scheduled for November 22.
The government’s intention of running the country through ordinances does not augur well for the Nepali intelligentsia, who believe the current need is to reach to a consensus to overcome the political and constitutional crisis. One thing is clear: the present government has lost its legitimacy to take decisions that have long-term impact. With the president terming the government a caretaker one and with the date for the CA elections already declared, the government should not come out with a full-fledged budget with programs with long-term implications. But the opposition parties’ hurried SOS to the president to intervene is also not wise, as dragging the president into the current political crisis would only encourage him to play an active role as the head of the state.
The onus of finding a solution, therefore, lies squarely on the prime minister’s shoulders. If the solution entails his resignation, then he should immediately resign and provide an outlet. He will continue to be the in-charge of the government till another government of consensus can be formed. Bhattarai should understand that the need of the hour is not spending nights in villages but engaging days and night with leaders of other parties to find a viable solution to the current crisis and create an environment of trust to conduct a free and fair election on November 22