Running out of time

The government on Thursday announced that the federal and provincial elections would be held on November 20; and with that, the Sher Bahadur Deuba administration has turned into a caretaker government limited to carrying out day-to-day administrative work. Ideally, caretaker governments, as a matter of practice, limit their roles to running the government without undertaking any major policy decisions such as introducing bills which require ratification by Parliament. But lawmakers, in the absence of an explicit clause, have decided to prolong Parliament to discuss and endorse a few pending bills.

The decision to extend the term of Parliament beyond its past use-by-day has divided experts. Some of them have criticized the government for exploiting the loophole which has allowed casual interpretation of the constitution concerning the tenure of the House. But the crucial concern is not particularly over the loose interpretation of the House’s tenure, but rather over why there is a rush to pass some pressing bills at the last hour. There are 49 bills in the federal Parliament waiting for its endorsement, some of them have been pending for more than four years. So it begs the question: Why the need to show this pretense of sincerity at the tail end of the House’s tenure?

Leaving essential matters until the last moment is an accomplished trait that Nepali politicians have exhibited at every step over the last five years. Constant infighting for ministerial berths, proroguing Parliament on several occasions, issuing ordinances to pass laws, and lack of participation and consultation among lawmakers has been a constant feature of the federal Parliament’s tenure. All these acts of the politicians have done more to erode the electorate’s trust bestowed upon the representatives than to strengthen the ideals of a fledgling republic.

Practicing the politics of ad hocism, Nepali politicians have turned a blind eye to the people’s pressing needs and the administration’s inefficiency. Hence the government’s move to focus on critical pending bills after announcing the elections will undoubtedly cause further chaos in the House. There has been a lack of proper consultation between stakeholders and meaningful deliberation among lawmakers, which is necessary for the lawmaking process. What exactly are the politicians expecting to achieve, something they failed to accomplish in the last four and a half years? There is no question of setting a good precedent when their track record has been abysmal.

This show of false sincerity shouldn’t fool the people who have witnessed the antics of the politicians over the years. It is clear where the priorities of the parliamentarians currently lie. There is nothing more important for a politician than to seek re-election. Therefore stop hoodwinking people into believing that extending the House’s term would in some way add to the industrious qualities shown by the representatives when it does not.

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