Who should be our prime minister?

Devendra Gautam

Devendra Gautam

Who should be our prime minister?

If the Maoist party fails to win 40-50 seats, thereby emerging as a king-maker in power-sharing, a new scenario may emerge, which will affect government formation

Regardless of his performance as prime minister during his decades-long political career, a small constituency in Dadeldhura district in the Far-Western Region may continue to elect Sher Bahadur Deuba as their representative till eternity.

Another small constituency in Jhapa district in the Eastern Region may continue to elect KP Sharma Oli as their true representative, without bothering to assess his performance as prime minister during his long political career.

Yet another constituency in Rautahat or Kathmandu in the Central Region may stick to another former prime minister Madhav Kumar Nepal as their representative for reasons best known to them.

Another constituency in Gorkha may choose to have Pushpa Kamal Dahal alias Prachanda as their lifelong representative, regardless of his not-so-smashing performance as prime minister. Various factors may be at play behind these constituencies’ possible selection of their representatives.

Money and muscle matter. Clan allegiance matters. Party loyalty matters. The surety that their candidate will become prime minister of the country, come hell or high water, may have driven—and continue to drive—a constituency to opt for the same candidate over and over again. Which constituency knows this better than the constituency in Dadeldhura, which has elected Sher Bahadur Deuba not once, twice but seven times?  

Every constituency, of course, has every right to choose their favorite candidate as their representative. But here we are talking about the head of the government, not a representative of a constituency.

Once elected to the parliament, powerful candidates can easily bend the rules to quench their thirst for state powers. They can make their respective parties toe their lines and buy support through the lure of the lucre. They can resort to all sorts of means to manufacture a majority in the Parliament in their favor. Our parliamentary history is full of incidents of horse-trading, intimidation of lawmakers, floor-crossing and use of several other unparliamentary measures that have harmed this country big time while serving the interest of influential prime ministers and, in turn, deep-entrenched foreign interests.

In such cases, the parliament has become a mere stable full of beasts of burden that do the bidding of a whip-cracking executive. The whole nation saw this during the endorsement of the much controversial Mahakali Treaty, during the passage of the Millennium Challenge Corporation Compact and the controversial Citizenship Amendment Bill. Who among the lawmakers bothered to air their voice of conscience during those events?

These days, the so-called sovereign Parliament acts as a mute spectator even when the executive chooses to sell the country down the river by giving her lifelines away, much to the detriment of the country and her people. We saw it during the gifting of the Upper Karnali Project, Arun III, Arun IV, Lower Arun, West Seti and Seti VI projects. Decades before, the country saw the same spectacle during the sellout of the Koshi, Gandaki and Mahakali rivers.

Many times since the 1950’s, most of us have looked into the menu for hours on end and decided not to give new taste and flavor a try. We have wasted the time of the poor waiter and the restaurant (Do we value our own time as well? I seriously doubt it). We have decided to vote for our ancestors’ parties time and time again despite their miserable performance.

Yet we expect the tried, tested and corrupt-to-the core parties and their leaders to do magic and transform the country. All this takes us to some important questions.   

Isn’t it time for a thorough cleansing of this system? Should we again vote for the parties and the leaders that have failed us repeatedly? Look how these leaders have picked up their PR candidates, straight from their pockets. Doesn’t this selection make a mockery of representative democracy? Doesn’t it make a mockery of inclusiveness?

Should not a prime minister of 30m people, representing seven provinces, different ethnicities, faith and age groups have a national appeal? Should the candidate for the top job be an all-time favorite rep of a particular constituency and nothing more? Should the maker of our destiny necessarily be a darling of those handpicked birth chart readers and stargazers? Should we vote accordingly when some dubious ‘reader of the future’ says that candidate X will be the prime minister for the nth time?   

Should our prime minister not have a long-term vision for the country? Should the candidate not be an expert of repute in some important walks of national life, like national defense and security, geopolitics and geo-strategy, economics, water resources, artificial intelligence, the internet of things, et al? Should he not have a proven track record? Not in institutionalizing malgovernance, corruption, political instability, anarchy, of course.

Should the candidate be physically, medically and spiritually fit enough to govern?  Above all, should not the whole electorate elect a prime minister with a majority? Should this task fall on the frail shoulders of constituencies that cannot rise above their our-own-candidate-for-PM and blood-is-thicker-than-water mentality? The Nepali electorate should ask these questions repeatedly before the elections slated for November 20, 2022. Let your conscience guide you through and give this country a truly deserving prime minister, this time around.