With the likely support from almost about two-thirds of parliamentarians, Nepali Congress president Sher Bahadur Deuba is all set to become the tenth prime minister in ten years following the successful culmination of the people’s movement in 2006 that also saw the end of monarchy in the nation. For Deuba, it is the fourth time that he is taking the mantle of a prime minister.
This time around, Deuba has emerged a suave politician who waited with patience for his turn to take over the premiership. He did not exhibit any haste and thus did not create last minute ruckus surrounding his candidacy. He allowed the major coalition partner Maoist Centre’s Chairman and outgoing prime minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda, to oversee the first round of the local election successfully despite the latter completing his mutually agreed period to be in the premier’s seat. Deuba also allowed the main opposition, the UML, the two days’ time to mull over their position before the parliament was permitted to function so that his candidacy for the premiership would be endorsed with almost two-third majority.
Initially, the main opposition, the UML, had raised its concerns over the candidacy of Deuba as next prime minister stating that he had been engaged in some recent controversial decisions. However, the UML’s objection could not gather steam because of the number-game that is so central to the parliamentary polity. Deuba has now gained supports of almost two-thirds majority in the parliament to become the prime minister for the fourth time in his long political career.
It is interesting to see that many political parties represented in the Legislature Parliament have come forward to support Deuba as the nation’s next prime minister. Apart from the main coalition partner, the Maoist Centre, parties like Rastriya Prajatantra Party, the parties of Upendra Yadav, Bijaya Kumar Gacchchhadar and newly formed RJP-Nepal and many fringe parties have vowed to extend their support to Deuba. It has become certain that the NC president-led government would be a coalition of several parties. While many of these parties will join the government, the RJP-Nepal, which has been putting forth several demands regarding the constitution amendment would not be joining the government but would extend its support to Deuba from outside. Regarding the demands of the RJP-N, Deuba has initiated several steps which have certainly sent positive messages to the “dissatisfied” Madhesi leaders of the RJP-N.
In return to their support, Deuba is believed to have separated several ministerial portfolios to leaders of these parties. It has been said that Deuba would not allow his own party leaders to remain in the ministerial positions for repeated time, meaning that he would bring new faces from his party in the ministries that fall into his party’s lap. In fact, he is said to be holding discussions with MC that the party should also bring new faces in the ministries which go to their way. Though it sounds a bit over-ambitious to replace the ministers who have earned fame through their emphatic performance during the tenure of the outgoing government, the decision to bring in new faces gives a hint that the new prime minister want to do justice to the party men waiting to become ministers and perform as the members of the Deuba cabinet.
We all know that the new government under Deuba will come in a difficult period. The political transition is still going on. The government will have to organise second round of local election as successfully as the first round held by the erstwhile government led by Prachanda. Also, Deuba will have to look after two major elections- the elections for provincial assemblies and the federal government within his tenure. For achieving these goals, he will need support from his coalition partners as well as his party.
While the first round of the local election has laid a foundation for the successful implementation of the new constitution, the remaining elections-the second phase of the local poll, provincial and federal polls would firmly put into operation the new democratic republic constitution under Deuba’s leadership. The success of Deuba government therefore lies not only for the performance of Council of Ministers, but also how the government would handle the major elections for the provincial government and the central government that will give the nation a totally new political atmosphere. So, Deuba, during his tenure, will have major achievements to gain and consolidate the new political atmosphere throughout the newly carved 744 local units.
The NC president is frequently rapped for his past performance. During his first tenure as the premier, he was criticised for “Pajero and Prado” culture. He had then allowed the parliamentarians to import expensive vehicles free of taxes. Many parliamentarians then imported these vehicles in their names only to sell to others. He was also criticised for taking unethical moves of horse-trading of the parliamentarians to remain in the seat. When he became premier during the time of now ousted former King Gyanendra, he was soon given marching order by the former king calling him as incapable and inefficient premier before he took over power as an absolute king.
When Deuba will take over as the tenth prime minister, his past will certainly haunt him, though the time he is taking the PM’s mantle now is totally different one. There are several other responsibilities for him and for the government under him to fulfill. During his tenure, he must aspire to control rising level of corruption, inaction and cronyism in the nation, apart from directing his ministers to undertake people-oriented programmes.
Most importantly, besides guiding the nation towards becoming a vibrant democratic republican state with full implementation of the constitution that will pave the ways for economic prosperity of the nation, he would be wary of not allowing any element to undermine the newly gained political achievements. On the other hand, elements willing to undermined the nation’s sovereignty and territorial integrity should be taken care of, while maintaining a sound and balanced relations with friendly neighbours and nations. The people would judge his government on the basis of his success in achieving these important goals.