Back on the job

  • PM Koirala must convince India of Nepali readiness to utilise investment
Back on the job

Jul 23, 2014-

The fact that Prime Minister Sushil Koirala is back in the country after over a month of cancer treatment in the United States is heartening. That he seems to have recovered well and in much better shape than he was before he left is something to cheer about. It is to be hoped that Koirala has completely recovered and will not face any more medical challenges in the near future. And it is also to be hoped that the government, which has seemed a bit directionless and slow in the prime minister’s absence, will soon regain steam. It is essential for this to happen, as there are many upcoming challenges for the government—both on the domestic and international fronts. Koirala has a lot of work to do if he is to handle these challenges astutely.

The imminent challenge is the development of relations with India. India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is scheduled to visit Nepal in a few days, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself is visiting next month. The Modi government seems very keen to improve ties with India’s neighbours, and the new government is especially keen to improve and expand economic ties. It is partly because of this that there has suddenly been such a flurry of activity with officials in Nepal and Delhi both trying to reach an agreement on cooperation on power sharing. According to sources, Modi is very willing to provide generous investment and aid to Nepal—provided that Nepal is ready to receive it. The challenge for Koirala here is to first demonstrate to the Indian government that the Nepali government is proactive about receiving and utilising investment, and ensuring a stable investment climate. At the same time, Koirala has to ensure that all agreements that may be signed with India are fully transparent and have the approval of public opinion.

The second important challenge for Koirala is to ensure that the constitution-drafting process gets back on track. Not much progress was made on this front during his absence. Rather, there were undercurrents of competition between the Nepali Congress and CPN-UML, which could potentially have led to paralysis and instability. This was unfortunate. According to the Constituent Assembly’s schedule, the body will have to resolve all contentious issues on constitution drafting by the first week of September. It is thus a matter of urgency that all parties should come together to negotiate. Of course, the bulk of negotiations will happen in the Political Dialogue and Consensus Committee (PDCC), which is headed by Baburam Bhattarai. But Koirala has an important role in ensuring that various groups both within and outside the CA are consulted. He is also responsible for convincing all sides to demonstrate maximum flexibility so that an agreement can be reached. We hope that Koirala will be able to tackle the challenges that confront him in the near future.

Published: 24-07-2014 08:59

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