PM Dahal finding it challenging to please coalition partners

Himal Press 21 Jun 2024
PM Dahal finding it challenging to please coalition partners Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal (File Photo)

KATHMANDU: Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, who leads a coalition government, has been struggling to please his coalition partners.

The dissatisfaction expressed by CPN-UML Chairperson KP Sharma Oli regarding the budget for the upcoming fiscal year and the statement of Biraj Bhakta Shrestha of the Rastriya Swatantra Party (RSP) that his party’s ministers could resign anytime show coalition partners are not happy with the government.

The budget for the fiscal year 2024/25 has faced more criticism from the ruling coalition partner CPN-UML than from the main opposition party. Some have commented that distrust and discord among the parties are the reasons for this criticism. However, Prime Minister Dahal has been claiming that there is no dissatisfaction within the ruling parties regarding the budget.

Last Sunday, Oli publicly criticized the government, stating that they had joined the government for development and prosperity, but the poverty rate increased by three percent over the past three years. He said the budget again failed to introduce a plan to reduce poverty.
Prime Minister Dahal said a day later that the remarks made by Oli were not correct. However, Dahal appeared to be very cautious while countering Oli’s remarks. Talking to journalists in Chitwan, Dahal said Oli opposed the budget just for the sake of opposing. “There is no problem in the coalition. It will last for a long time,” Dahal added.

It is not only the UML that Dahal must appease. He also needs to take along another important coalition partner – the RSP. That is why he has been reacting softly to the comments made by RSP leaders regarding the government.

Minister for Youth and Sports Biraj Bhakta Shrestha said last Saturday that there were voices within the RSP to review the support given to the government and that they were carrying resignation letters in their pockets. “If a need arises for a compromise on any agreement, the RSP is ready to quit the government,” Shrestha had said.

Reacting to Shrestha’s remarks, Dahal said the RSP would not leave the government. “Rabi Lamichhane (RSP President) used to say the same thing about resignation earlier. He might have to say this for his identity as well,” Dahal said. “But as far as I understand, there is nothing like that.”\

Dahal was appointed as the Prime Minister on December 26, 2022. Even after 17 months of leading the government, he has not been able to work without pressure.

The public remarks made by Netra Bikram Chand ‘Biplav’, the general secretary of the Communist Party of Nepal, who is with Dahal in the Socialist Front, reflect Prime Minister Dahal’s compulsions. Addressing a program in Kathmandu on Sunday, Biplav said Dahal is only concerned with saving his position for now. “He keeps saying he might quit the government today or tomorrow,” Chand said.¬†Stating that the budget presented by Maoist Center’s Barsha Man Pun is facing criticism from his own party as well as the coalition partners, Chand said it is difficult to appease parties in the coalition. “I knew this situation would arise. That is why I had suggested Dahal take the reins of the government only if he will stay in power for the full five-year term or support other parties,” Chand said. “This government will function well if Dahal is allowed to lead it for a full five years.”

Dahal was appointed as the Prime Minister on December 26, 2022. Even after 17 months of leading the government, he has not been able to work without pressure. This is because he has had to keep changing coalitions to remain in the leadership.

The Maoist Center chairperson was not in favor of recalling ambassadors before leaving for New Delhi to attend Modi’s swearing-in ceremony. However, Oli cautioned him saying that any delay in recalling ambassadors could be seen as being soft toward Nepali Congress and India. Accordingly, he took the decision to recall the ambassadors and left for New Delhi.

Because of this, Dahal had to engage with Indian officials by keeping Dr Shankar Sharma, who had been asked to return, alongside him. Upon his return to Nepal, Dahal said he didn’t think such a situation would arise.


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