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Second wind

Second wind

As political analyst Krishna Khanal points out, after a long time, the head of government in Nepal will have an unquestionable man­date to govern (see: Many hurdles ahead for Oli government, Page 2). Since the 2006 political changes, until the promulgation of the new constitu­tion on September 20, 2015, successive governments were occupied with completing the peace and consti­tution process that started with the signing of the Com­prehensive Peace Accord in 2006. After constitution promulgation, the focus shifted to holding the consti­tutionally-mandated three tiers of elections. Only after these elections was an environment created for the new constitution’s implementation.

KP Sharma Oli becomes the first prime minister to see to the institutionalization of the nascent federal set-up, as provided in the new constitution. With the merger between CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Center) now all but assured, Oli will get to lead a strong gov­ernment with a commanding majority in the national parliament. Not just that. His left alliance will also form governments in six of the seven federal provinces, bar­ring Province 2. It is hard to think of a more favorable political climate for the new prime minister.

On the campaign trail, Oli had promised a new era of prosperity and stability. That will be a tall order. Most of the next few years will, perforce, be spent devising the right formula for division of spoils among the cen­tral government, the seven provinces and the 753 local bodies—in what is sure to be an acrimonious and ardu­ous process. In this climate, it will be difficult for Oli to chart out a clear path for collective, national prosperity.

He could have better luck on stability, primarily because of the solid mandate he enjoys at all three levels of government. If there is one strong communist party following the left merger, handing over power to Maoist chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, as agreed, need not be very disruptive either.

Oli’s difficult relations with Madhesi parties could be more problematic. He will not find it easy to accommo­date them in the new central government, much less accommodating their demands in the new constitu­tion. Separately, nor will it be easy for him to deal with India and China, with their growing (and often compet­ing) influences and expectations.

Oli’s mettle as a national leader was put to a serious test during his stint as the blockade-time prime minis­ter. With challenges aplenty on both national and inter­national fronts, it will not be any easier this time.