Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has been on a cross-nation traveling spree, on an army helicopter, to inaugurate projects that had started operation months ago. The caretaker PM’s visits, however, do not stop at the inaugural functions as he goes on to give speeches to the masses gathered in thousands and makes new promises.
After dissolving the House on December 20, Oli called snap polls for April 30 and May 10 stating that internal squabbling and a lack of cooperation from members of his party had paralysed decision-making, forcing his move to seek an early vote.
Judges in the Supreme Court are currently hearing arguments on more than a dozen petitions challenging Oli’s plan to seek elections about two years before his government’s tenure ends.
The elections announced by Oli will happen only if the court endorses his decision.
While other prime ministers in the past had also dissolved the House, all of them had tendered their resignations after recommending such moves. Oli, however, has yet to resign although he has automatically become a caretaker prime minister as per Article 77(3) after he dissolved the House.
A caretaker government is a temporary ad hoc government that performs some governmental duties and functions in a country until a regular government is elected or formed.
Though a caretaker government has legal but not political legitimacy because it is not or cannot be held accountable to the Parliament, Oli has already embarked on election campaigns at the government’s expense and with taxpayers’ money.
Oli has also promised various projects to contractors in a clear bid to influence voters.
On January 25, Oli inaugurated a bridge over the Rapti River in Lumbini Province which has been in use sinve June/July, 2020 and later in his speech promised other half a dozen projects in and around Dang district.
On January 29, Oli awarded the tender to develop the 679-megawatt Lower Arun Hydropower Project to India’s Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam under the build, own, operate and transfer modality.
On January 30, Oli inaugurated the local city hall of Bharatpur Metropolitan City and the ring road in Chitwan.
Similarly on February 1, Oli inaugurated the country’s largest electricity transmission substation in Dhalkebar, Dhanusha, which has been operating since November, 2020. He also traveled to Siraha to address a mass gathering.
Just because Oli has access to resources and power, it is morally wrong of him to misuse state coffers for personal gains that too amid a pandemic when his government once claimed it did not have enough money to conduct free COVID-19 tests and treatment for the citizens, and has relied on foreign grants for vaccines against the virus.