Yuba Nath Lamsal
The present Nepali Congress-CPN-UML coalition government headed by Congress President Sushil Koirala has completed its 100 days in office. The 100 days for a new government headed by an inexperienced Prime Minister are just the period to get familiar with the matters relating to governance and it virtually cannot take any concrete actions within this period. However, this is the period that is sufficient for any government to prioritize its agendas and policies and set clear goals and action plan to achieve what it wants in a long-term basis. But the government with experienced prime minister and other cabinet members can do a lot during this period. Thus, the period of 100 days for a new government is called a honeymoon period to get things started. On the basis of the 100 days the performance of any new government cannot be evaluated and its activities generalized. However, this period is sufficient enough to set an appropriate course of future actions and approaches to achieve the set goals and one can clearly assess how this government will move ahead and how it may fare.
Given the pace and posture of the Koirala-led coalition government, it is highly unlikely that it would accomplish its goals within the targeted timeframe. Koirala government has been very slow in action which has become a subject of criticism not only from the opposition parties but from within his own party and also from the coalition partners. The main opposition UCPN-Maoist, so far, has not passed any comment on the performance of the government but some leaders of the ruling Nepali Congress and CPN-UML appear to be vocal against the handling of affairs by Prime Minister Sushil Koirala and his government. However, Koirala appears to be unfazed and untouched by criticism as he is not in the mood of changing his style. Koirala has definitely clean and untainted image. None can accuse him of any kind of corruption so far. There are little chances that he would be involved in financial scams even in future. This is definitely his positive points and strength. But this does not mean that all will be well. There are many people who doubt on Koirala’s political and administrative acumen. Some even call him a politically cruel and managerially weak politician. Inaction is no strength and quality of a politician. Only those who act can err. Those who do not act can make no mistake. The same can be applied to Prime Minister Sushil Koirala. If he does not act, he will be able to maintain his image of a clean and untainted politician but the history will condemn him as the worst and the weakest prime minister from the standpoint of action.
Sushil Koirala is, perhaps, the most powerful prime minister over the last two decades. Koirala has the backing of more than two-thirds parliamentarians. In his own party the Nepali Congress, he commands overwhelming support whereas the coalition partners also respect him with high esteem. Even the opposition parties have so far not found any ground to criticize him and the opposition parties, too, respect him. As Koirala is trying to reach out to the political forces outside the Constituent Assembly, such extra-constitutional forces too have high expectations on him to move ahead on the basis of consensus and cooperation of all political forces both within and outside the Constituent Assembly.
The beginning of the Koirala government is definitely good. It has not acted in haste but is moving with caution. This slow motion of the government has come under criticism not from outside but within Prime Minister Koirala’s own party and also from the coalition partner. However, Koirala supporters have dismissed the criticism as mere nonsense as the government is slowly but steadily working to achieve the goals set by itself. Commenting on the performance of the government, spokesman of the government and the Minister for Information and Communication Dr Minendra Rijal said “its 100 days in office are satisfactory”. According to Minister Rijal, the government knows its mandate, limitations and mission and also it is working accordingly. Several actions the government has listed as its success stories include even the minor and regular tasks that any administration has to do. This shows that the government itself is not satisfied with its own performance.
It is true that the first and the foremost responsibility and mandate of the government is peace and constitution. On these agendas, the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML had made their position clear during the election on the basis of which people elected the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML to the position of first and the second parties in the Constituent Assembly. These parties had made promises to the people that they would give the country a new constitution within a year and institutionalize peace and achievements of all previous popular movements more particularly the Jana Andolan II. However, the constitution writing is the job of the Constituent Assembly but not that of the government. The task of the government is just facilitate this process. The principal task of the government is the governance and development of the country. In the task of governance, the government is too slow and inert that there is no ground to be satisfied with the government.
Right after assuming power, Koirala government has made a barrage of promises to the people on political, economic and other fronts. It has so far not accomplished a single job that is worth mentioning in the period of its 100 days. Thus, the performance of the Koirala-led government cannot be evaluated as there is no action at all. So the period of 100 days of the Koirala government has been marked by inaction and inertia. The government has done nothing and taken no action but is only reacting. Thus, the 100 days in office of this present Nepali-Congress-UML coalition government is the period of inaction and reaction.
Even in the process of constitution writing, there has not been encouraging progress. The Constituent Assembly has constituted different thematic committees to settle the disputes on some key areas and issues and speed up the constitution drafting committee. Although the parties have promised to give the country a new constitution within a year, the progress made so far in constitution writing in the Constituent Assembly does not at all make us confident that this deadline would be met and the constitution promulgated within this period of one year. The constitution is a must without which the country would continue to suffer instability and political transition. The prolonged political transition is not in the interest of the country as the transitional period is often marked by uncertainty, instability, poor law and order and economic stagnation. Thus, the political transition must be brought to an end at the earliest, for which the promulgation of the new constitution is a must.
But the governance and the constitution writing are two different aspects. The government’s role is just to ensure favorable atmosphere for constitution writing. Thus it should be involved more in the governance and development works. However, there has not been any progress in ensuring good governance and development. Good governance is quick decision and efficient delivery of services to the people. Since there is no action, the government has miserably failed in giving good governance and quick and efficient delivery of services to the people. Thus, the period of 100 days of the present government has not been able to provide any optimism and enthuse the people.