The editors present at the prime minister’s residence in the Feb 4 get-together at Baluwatar were all struck by a sudden change in the PM’s voice-tone. Normally given to hectoring his audience, that evening, he seemed to be in a mood to listen. His replies were mild too, gone the acerbic edge. It was easy to guess why. PM Oli is soon undergoing another kidney transplant. He fears that as his mobility and functioning could be restricted in the case, it would be wise to placate or neutralize his enemies before he reenters active politics.
KP Oli is in no doubt that, boosted by a new kidney, he will be at the helm for another three years of this government’s remaining term, as he admitted to the editors. He must also be feeling quite humiliated at having to make big political concessions to his co-chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal. For instance, despite his old stand against the election of Agni Sapkota as the new speaker of the federal parliament, he had to bow down before an un-budging Dahal. He has also faced a lot of flak from inside his party over the American MCC compact, again largely from the ex-Maoists.
Oli seems to realize he can only lose by going on the offensive when his political hand is weakened and his health is again iffy. He rather appears minded to bide his time. This is perhaps why he has of late been unusually soft spoken, even with the press folks he usually takes to task. Maybe this is also why he agreed to the leak of the photograph that shows him playing a bansuri, to suggest that the hardheaded politician also has a ‘soft’ side.
KP Oli has made astounding political comebacks even when all hope seemed lost. He had developed a debilitating kidney ailment much before he became the party chair, much less a two-time prime minister. So his determination to make yet another comeback should not be taken lightly.
But will his charm offensive work? He may have removed some doubts of the participating editors at his Tuesday meeting. But the doubts will soon start resurfacing as he will remain the executive prime minister who presides over an ineffective government, whether or not he can rule from Singhadurbar post-operation. His time-buying tactic could come to be seen as another cynical ploy to cling to the PM’s chair. Besides, he has his hands full with the unfolding Lalita Niwas fiasco