Follow @southasiaanalys

Nepal:PM Oli’s Position-Shaky?

Paper No. 6609                       Dated 27-June-2020
By Dr. S. Chandrasekharan.
Having run out of Gas in pushing for ultra nationalist (read Anti Indian) rhetoric regarding the dispute of Kalapani area,  Oli has been brought down to earth by his colleagues to face the realities in handling(mis) of the Spread of Wuhan Virus and for taking unilateral decisions without taking the top party leadership into confidence in all his decisions.
India Disappoints Oli:
India has not helped Oli either in sending its Foreign Minister or a delegation to discuss the border issue immediately nor has it issued any strong demarche on the border issue. There is no communication either from India on any dialogue in the near future.  Oli is still looking for distractions to cover up his failure as his party colleagues have finally forced him to attend the Standing Committee meeting to explain his position.
As mentioned by one of the Analysts, Oli is better known for his demagoguery than democratic conviction.  He is too clever- can still outwit his senior colleagues and manage to stay on!
Standing Committee Meeting of the Ruling Party:
The 44 member Standing Committee of the Ruling NCP has not met for the last six months.  Oli has been avoiding the meeting as he is sure to be censured on his style of Governance and could be losing his job.  After postponing the meeting twice, he had to attend the meeting on Wednesday the 24th of this month..
Prior to the meeting, on the two previous days 22nd and 23rd Oli met Dahal, the Co. Chairman of the Party several times to sort out the issues but could not do it. As he had the support of only 14 of the 44 member Secretariat, he tried to reach out to erstwhile Maoist members for support and cold not succeed either..
It was in these circumstances that Oli attended the meeting on the 24th..  Offence is the best part of Defence and therefore Oli started the meeting at his combative best, saying that the Government is performing well (?) But the rival factions within the Party were acting as opposition leaders and because of this, the good work of the Government  has not reached the Public.  This is with reference to the top leadership of the party like Dahal, Nepal and Khanal, 
Oli claimed success in checking the spread of Corona Virus in Nepal.  In an apparent reference to India, he said that certain foreign forces were miffed at his Government for issues linked to nationalism and urged the party leaders to act in a spirit of unity and defend the Government’s performance in public.
Dahal, the Co. Chairman replied that the leaders should not take credit for the good work done by the Government ignoring the contribution of others.  He charged that the Government had not been following the Party’s directives.  Dahal is said to have reminded Oli of the understanding reached between them earlier that he (Dahal) would take over the Government halfway which Oli had refused.
In the interim period after the meeting on 24th and 25th June,Oli tried to win over many of the Secretariat members but failed.  It is said that Oli even offered to hand over some of the important portfolios to Dahal’s group in running the Government.  Insiders say that the minimum that may be acceptable would be for Oli to give up completely the Party Leadership to Dahal, make an abject confession of his failure in combating the Virus spread and an undertaking that he would behave better in future. This is being discussed.
Oli, to his distress discovered that the “Bhaisepati Alliance” has been reconstituted and must have also realised that he will not be able to carry the Secretariat in handling the Covid-19 (Wuhan Virus) crisis and also in going ahead with the Millennium Challenge Corporation- Nepal Compact. In the latter case, the three member task force had suggested some amendments to the agreement and the US sources have clearly told Nepal that they were willing to clarify the issue but will not accept amendments.
Having not succeeded in convincing the Secretarial members of his party of his performance and having realised the danger of losing his Prime Ministership, PM Oli did not attend the postponed session of the Party Secretariat on the 26th on grounds of “Prior Engagements.”
Let us now examine how Oli’s Government is handling the Covid 19 crisis.
1.  Incidence of Virus Infections in increasing day by day.  As of yesterday 11755 persons have been affected and there were 27 deaths and 2695 recoveries.  Increase day wise would be 20th June- 331, 21st June 421, 22nd June 535, 23rd June 538, 24th June- 538, and 25th June- 439.
2.  From the records of the Supreme Court, it is seen that 42 writs have been filed in relation to the handling of the Virus and 23 directives were issued.  The Government has failed to abide by most of the orders of the Supreme Court.
3.  One of the directives was to maintain Quarantine facilities in line with international standards but most of the facilities have no basic facilities like sanitation and running water.  The National Human Rights Commission has pointed out that the quarantine facilities are running the risk of becoming the Hot Spots for the Virus.
4.  Most of the migrant labour is yet to be ferried from abroad and there are thousands and thousands still stranded.  Most of them have no funds to pay on their own to return to Nepal and are struggling to survive.
5, The PCR Kits procured from China by the Army were found to be incompatible with the testing machines available in the country.  The Army says that it procured them on the basis the details given by the Health Ministry.  Even the National Public Health Laboratory cannot use them.  About 28,000 kits are lying unused. There are complaints that the kits have been overpriced by China and the Army has now given up the task of procuring the kits.  
6.  The migrant labour who have returned to their villages from India are now jobless and are struggling for survival.  The Government has planned no scheme for them.  They are in a sense stranded even within Nepal as they cannot go back to India either.
China Encroaches on the Northern Border
Amidst the mishandling of the Pandemic crisis, media reports indicate that China has also grabbed some land in the northern boundary. Some 64 Hectares have been encroached upon in Dolakha, Humla, Sindhuphuchowk, Sankuwasabha, Gorkha and Rasuwa districts.  Three Nepali Congress MPS have filed a motion in the Parliament on 24th to draw the attention of the Government.  Both the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Agriculture Ministry have separately denied of any encroachment by China.  But a document published in 2017 by the Agriculture department reproduced by the Himalayan Times now (June 25) said that China has been expanding its road network in a region where some rivers and tributaries have changed their courses.  It said that China has encroached upon 36 Hectares of Nepal’s territory at ten places and if it continues hundreds of hectares of land belonging to Nepal will go to the Tibet Autonomous Region.
Other General Issues:
Of relevance to the border issue with India, one of the Indian Channels (WION) had posed a question whether India should have gone public with all the celibrations on the completion of a road to Lipu Lekh particularly when PM Oli was already under pressure to vacate his seat.  The Indian move was a “God send” for Oli who used his ultra nationalist rhetoric to save himself and emerge stronger.
An answer to this has been given by another article by Bloomberg India wherein the Analyst has said that probably it did not occur to India or it did not care.  This is true but unfortunate.
Outside the Kathmandu Valley there is so much of good will for India and this needs to be noted. Indirect support of the blockade soon after the implementation of the Constitution  was wrong and is still  not forgotten by the People.
  In an unusual and plain speaking article by Bhoj Raj Paudel, in Annapoorna Times titled, “Nepal’s costly Embrace of China,” it points out that “Kathmandu’s failure to take New Delhi into confidence would cost the poor Nepali People who rely on India to meet their vital needs including health care.  It continues and says that Nepal’s relationship to China is no cushion to poor Nepali People and that China only serves the interests of the Elite.  
The author makes a plea not to destabilise the country with  a “flawed foreign policy approach.”  It continued that India’s treatment of Nepal as just another country may have no implications for Kathmandu’s Power Elite but will result in devastating consequences for poor Nepali People who cannot even think of working in Beijing’s Restaurants even as dishwashers.