It’s not for us to say whether Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli should resign. The party he jointly chairs with Pushpa Kamal Dahal has near two-thirds majority in the federal lower house and Oli was chosen the prime minister as its parliamentary party leader. At least until the next elections or so long as the Nepal Communist Party remains intact, the party has legitimate claim to the top post. And choosing the prime minister is undoubtedly the NCP’s sole prerogative. Yet the media and the people also reserve the right to pass judgment on his government.
The Oli government has been a disappointment. It promised so much, and delivered so little. From the wretched state of the national economy to the abysmal handling of the Covid crisis, its failures are a legion. This is partly why there is disquiet in the ruling party. The shoot-from-the-hip Oli was never going to be universally popular in the NCP. Yet his rival factions would have been silenced if people had expressed their faith in Oli’s leadership. As it is, the intra-party rifts threaten to tear the NCP apart.
PM Oli on Nov 4 accused rival factions in his party of conspiring to unseat him and reaffirmed his commitment not to resign under any condition. Meanwhile, his chief rivals like Dahal and Madhav Kumar Nepal have had enough of Oli’s ‘go-it-alone’ attitude. And these in-party disagreements are once again threatening to boil over. Dahal and Nepal are both canny politicians who will not miss a chance to pull Oli down. Yet they justly accuse the prime minister of mishandling the pandemic, of enriching his cronies, and of ignoring (even mocking) healthy public criticism. Oli has also been reluctant to share power even though his party espouses ‘collective leadership’.
The prime minister has two options. Either he has to accept the charges levelled against him and resign. Or, if he is determined to stay put, he has to mend his errant ways and justify his continued government leadership. At least that is how things work in a healthy democracy. Oli must show through his deeds that he is accountable to the people and the parliament. People elected him to power for more than his oratory skills.