Wednesday 24th July 2024
Wednesday 24th July 2024
गृहपृष्ठNepalAnother ‘tension’ for PM Oli: Less work, more worry!

Another ‘tension’ for PM Oli: Less work, more worry!

Kathmandu- Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli is under tension due to conflict within the ruling Communist Party of Nepal (CPN). The ongoing issue raised by Chairman of the party Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’, senior leaders Madhav Kumar Nepal, Jhala Nath Khanal and others that Oli should resign from the post of Prime Minister has not subsided yet.

 Without having resolved the party’s dispute, Defense Minister Ishwar Pokharel and Chief of Army Staff Purnachandra Thapa have added yet another ‘tension’ for Prime Minister Oli, whose stress levels have escalated because of it.

 The leaders of the military organization and the ministry from their respective posts have begun debating over the need to cooperate, however neither side is willing to take blame for any shortcomings. As the work of the Kathmandu-Nijgadh Expressway has greatly slowed down in recent times, there is confusion as to who will take the responsibility for it, which has been the major source of concern for Prime Minister Oli.

 The government had handed over the construction of the expressway to the Nepal Army on April 6, 2008 to have it completed within four years. As per the responsibilities, the army then created an action plan and moved forward with the work, however, it failed to remain consistent. Without having any work completed as per the stated responsibilities, the plan was then amended and the deadline extended for two more years in order to have the work completed by 2080 BS. However, very little progress has been made since then.

As per the decision of the cabinet meeting held on August 19, 2018, General Thapa assumed office on September 9, 2018. However, after failing to work according to the action plan and to deliver on such a major development project, Minister Pokharel questioned the Army Chief. The issues around the project came into light during the annual progress review held at the Ministry of Defense on July 30.

 When Minister Pokharel accused the Army of not being able to deliver on its work, the Army Chief retorted that it had not been allowed to work and in return questioned Minister Pokharel on his leadership. General Thapa further indicated that there had constantly been political interference with even the most minor projects and contracts.

 In addition to the conflict over the expressway, disputes have also risen between the Army Chief and the Defense Minister over the purchase of medicine for the prevention of the coronavirus and other Covid-19 related issues. Following the dispute, the government canceled Omni Group’s agreement with OBCI to purchase drugs and equipment for the prevention and treatment of the coronavirus. It was made public that the cabinet meeting on March 29 decided to hand over the procurement of GTUG equipment to the Army.

 Minister of Defense Ishwor Pokharel, who is also the Coordinator of the High Level Coordination Committee for the coronavirus prevention and control, linked these various aspects. As Pokharel is in charge of the army’s departmental defense ministry, it is the military leadership that has held the army back from fulfilling its responsibilities. Despite being given the responsibility to procure medical equipment on time, the army failed to deliver.

 Meanwhile, the coordination committee led by Minister Pokharel has also been shut down also due to its inability to work effectively. Neither the Minister nor the army has been able to provide adequate political leadership in the purchase of medicine and equipment to manage the coronavirus. As with the expressway, the military became entangled in controversy surrounding the procurement process for necessary medical equipment. However, the army has been working efficiently in collecting swabs for coronavirus detection as well as managing the corpses of those who have died from it.

 According to military officials, Minister Pokharel’s self-interest has hampered the procurement of medicines. Minister Pokharel has begun interfering in the regular work of the military organization, bypassing the Army Chief by violating the ‘chain of command’, increasing his contacts with lower-ranking military officers, and showing various unnecessary interests in the work being done by the Army. The lack of coordination between the Army Chief and the Minister has thus reached a point of collapse.

 Amidst all the controversy is Prime Minister Oli. According to a source, General Thapa has met Prime Minister Oli and raised his frustrations over Minister Pokharel. Regardless, it seems unnecessary and ineffective for the quarrel between the Minister and the Army Chief to continue. The political leadership has not yet forgotten the ‘Katuwal scandal’ caused by a similar controversy.



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