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Editorial: Deuba’s one year as PM

Editorial: Deuba’s one year as PM

The anniversary of Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba’s year in office came hot on the heels of the storming of Presidential and Prime Ministerial residences in Colombo. Following the July 8 incident in Sri Lanka, Nepalis are debating if something similar could happen here. It certainly can. Had King Gyanendra not stepped down in the nick of time during the 2006 anti-monarchy protests, the royal palace too could have been overrun. While a repeat in Nepal of the Sri Lankan crisis is unlikely in the near future, it cannot be ruled out in the longer term. This is because in the past one year PM Deuba has done little to improve people’s perennially low opinion of their government. 

Deuba’s biggest achievement was giving Nepal’s grassroots democracy a new lease of life by successfully holding the May 13 local elections. Besides that it is hard to think of Debua’s any other achievement. Economic indicators have steadily gotten worse. The pandemic’s aftereffects and the ongoing war in Ukraine have weighed heavy on Nepal. Yet the government has also failed to bring comfort to the people in these troubled times. Instead, his (now ousted) finance minister did everything in his power to wreck the already troubled economy by pandering to vested interests.

Deuba liked to bemoan Oli’s authoritarian tendencies but he too has preferred to rule by diktat and concentrate power in Singhadurbar. Or he would have detached vital state organs like the the Department of Revenue Investigation and National Vigilance Center from the PMO. The transitional justice has continued to stagnate under his watch. Nepal’s foreign partners are more suspicious of Kathmandu than ever before. Meanwhile, the prime minister sounds out of sorts as he finds himself hemmed in both in and outside his party.

There was some hope that in these fading days of his political career, the five-time prime minister would try to cement his legacy as a statesman. But he has further tarnished his political legacy. Unlike in Sri Lanka, his offices may not be stormed. Yet the signs of public disillusionment against his government are there for everyone to see.