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Dahal’s event-hopping overshadows governance priorities

Dahal’s event-hopping overshadows governance priorities

Barely a heartbeat after seizing his third term as Prime Minister, CPN (Maoist Center) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal swore to buckle down, vowing to steer clear of the glitzy public spectacles that so often distract our leaders. He promised nothing short of groundbreaking achievements during this tenure.

Yet, in less than a fortnight, he quietly confessed to a select group of news editors that resisting the siren call of public events was a battle he couldn’t win. “Yes, I understand these functions take up precious hours, but there's an undeniable obligation that makes it agonizingly difficult to decline,” he admitted, betraying the fragility of his resolve.

Fast forward to January, he unleashed a 30-point ultimatum upon government secretaries, demanding immediate service delivery enhancements. He even brandished the sword of accountability, threatening bureaucrats with consequences if they failed to step up within 30 days. However, nine months have passed, and the service delivery landscape remains as desolate as a barren field. Promised improvements in the nation's economy and resolution of its financial woes have evaporated like a mirage in the desert.

Consider these recent months, and it becomes alarmingly apparent that the needle has not budged an inch—in any direction. The economy languishes, public service quality nosedives further, and inflation rears its ugly head. Meanwhile, the exodus of young talents to foreign shores swells unabated, stoking the ire of the populace. Anger simmers against the ineffectual government and ruling factions, thanks to their failure to deliver and the skyrocketing cost of daily essentials.

Yet, the prime minister’s daily itinerary paints a picture of blissful oblivion. He appears perennially ensnared in public galas or political conclaves, leaving Parliament in the lurch. He’s even been known to dedicate five leisurely hours to a reality TV show in Godavari while his coalition partners grappled with the opposition’s House obstruction. Sadly, the lure of gratifying speeches and social gatherings seems to have become an inescapable hallmark of our political elite.

An executive prime minister shoulders the pivotal responsibility of overseeing government entities and chairing vital committees. Experts insist that a monthly tête-à-tête with these agencies could work wonders. Yet, when the prime minister squanders time on unproductive pursuits like event-hopping and oratory displays, it's the people who bear the brunt as state agencies falter.

Throughout these nine months, Dahal’s calendar appears chock-full of events, petty coalition skirmishes, and meddling in provincial governance, as exemplified by the Koshi Province Assembly fracas. To add to his agenda, he’s swamped with events hosted by the Socialist Front across all seven provinces. Now, he’s suddenly fixated on projecting himself as a transitional justice champion.

Alongside this political maelstrom, he dabbles in sundry pursuits like inaugurating schools, hospitals, and administrative buildings at the grassroots, presiding over book launches, cutting ribbons at road openings, and even gracing sporting occasions. Dahal himself begrudgingly confessed that the Office of the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers currently resemble mere specters of effectiveness. During an Aug 4 meeting, he admitted: “We’ve fallen short in a multitude of matters, inviting public scrutiny.” The experts concur; small-scale events should be promptly discarded from his agenda

While his administration earns accolades for unearthing corruption scandals involving the fake refugee haven at Lalita Niwas and gold smuggling, Dahal faces allegations of shielding politicians and micro-managing minor government officials. Several vital bills languish in Parliament, yet the prime minister struggles to secure the approval of both coalition allies and opposition forces. To make matters worse, he hasn’t even assembled a cohesive team, despite deploying Maoist loyalists in various roles. His passport might be stamped with visits to India, and preparations underway for trips to China and the United Nations, but foreign affairs advisors remain conspicuously absent. Furthermore, his rapport with the Nepali Congress, a crucial coalition partner, teeters on the brink, marred by corruption disputes and discord with party leader Sher Bahadur Deuba.

Khem Raj Nepal, former secretary:  The prime minister has to engage a lot on policy issues in coordination with vital state institutions such as National Planning Commission and other agencies under him.  He has to monitor the functioning of all ministries. Now, it appears that he is misusing and abusing his position because he is attending to very small and trivial functions and issues. Actually, a code of conduct should be formulated which identifies the dos and don’ts of the prime minister and other ministers. 

Gopi Nath Mainali, former Secretary: The prime minister has a lot of tasks on his plate, mainly to coordinate with the government institutions from center to local office .The main tasks of the prime minister’s office are maintaining governance and preparing the draft of laws. There are some divisions in the prime minister’s office to conduct the sectoral tasks, but the prime minister has to oversee the overall tasks.