Sher Bahadur Deuba has been the prime minister for just over a month now. With his government only having a maximum of 15 months in office, he was expected to get off to a swift start. Yet Deuba has not even been able to expand his cabinet and he has already started pushing ordinances to bypass the parliament. Pratik Ghimire of ApEx talked to senior political analyst Shyam Shrestha on the Deuba government’s outlook.
How would you analyze this one-month tenure of Prime Minister Deuba?
A month might not be enough time to review a tenure, but as morning shows the day, Deuba’s government has also shown the pathway on which he wants to walk. Unfortunately, it’s a dark path. Recent timeline suggests that, like Oli, he is also on a regressive road. Deuba is still working with a four-member team, and the most important ministries like foreign and health are vacant. This has hampered service-delivery.
Two things should be appreciated though—distribution of vaccines and reappointment of Kulman Ghising as the NEA head. And amid various geopolitical hurdles, and with very few sources, Nepal Airlines is to fly to Afghanistan to evacuate Nepalis, which is appreciable too.
Do you think Deuba will be in office until the constitutionally-mandated November 2022 elections?
Only one person can answer this question: Deuba’s astrologer. Jokes apart, the life of this government is determined by its coalition partners and, as of now, it looks like they will stay united. They have also released their common minimum program, which sets a good precedent that is in line with international practice. But sadly, its content is not progressive. They have only unveiled the program to ensure the alliance’s unity.
How do you see the exclusion of the MCC compact in the common minimum program?
Nepal has been receiving grants from the US for a long time, and there have been no problems. We need grants. But what the MCC is asking in return will endanger our sovereignty. MCC says that our intellectual property will belong to them, the MCA-Nepal under the Nepal government won’t follow any directions from Nepali officials, MCC laws will be above our constitution, etc. We should not exchange these things for $500 million. I am happy the government is not talking about MCC and it is also not mentioned in the common minimum program. If, in case, it gets a green light from the parliament, this government will shortly collapse, and Deuba knows this.
Will the result of the Nepali Congress general convention slated for November-end affect Deuba’s tenure as prime minister?
According to party legislation, Nepali Congress must conduct its general convention this time. They might hold a small special convention for now, which will be followed by a regular convention later. But, whatever the result, it is least likely to affect Deuba’s government position. The entire party was committed to his premiership, and he still has a strong backup in the party.
What is your reading of PM Deuba’s foreign policy priorities?
Deuba never has a foreign policy, nor does he have a geopolitical outlook. Foreign policy is an expanded form of domestic policy. Since his domestic policy is poor, I don’t expect any better on the international front. Things could change a bit with a strong foreign minister though.