Prime Minister (PM) KP Sharma Oli has not gone to the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers for almost 10 months.
Oli, who had a second kidney transplant on March 4, 2020, has not gone out of Baluwatar in the intervening period. He last went to his office on March 15, 2020 to attend the video conferencing of SAARC leaders proposed by Indian Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi to pledge to fight the COVID-19 pandemic together.
He has rarely gone out of the Valley in the intervening period venturing out only twice while he rarely went out of his official residence in Baluwatar citing risk of infection for him due to compromised immune system owing to kidney transplant. He has held even the party meetings at Baluwatar and boycotted the party meetings called by his opponents elsewhere citing health precaution.
But all that has changed since he recommended House dissolution on December 20. Oli, who dissolved the House without ever attending a parliamentary committee meeting, went to Karki Banquet at Babar Mahal twice in a week to attend the gathering of his faction while he also attended a public program at the Nepal Academy.
He rarely went to his office at the Singha Durbar even before his second kidney transplant last year. A CPN leader who resigned from the Cabinet after Oli dissolved the House claimed that Oli has not held even one-third of his meetings at his office.
Government Spokesperson and Minister for Communication and Information Technology Parvat Gurung, however, shrugged it as a non-issue. "Cabinet meetings have been held. Questions should be raised only if they were not convened," he stated. "The question asking why the meetings were not held at the Singha Durbar or why the PM did not come to the Singha Durbar itself is wrong."
Foreign Minister and spokesperson of the CPN faction of Oli Pradeep Gyawali said he has not gone to the Singha Durbar due to his health condition. "He has not come mainly due to health condition. The office should be disinfected every day if he arrives," he said. "It was first due to health condition. Physical distance had to be maintained (due to COVID-19) after that. There is no such hall (like one at Balwuatar) at the Singha Durbar. PM will come once the hall under-construction at his office in Singha Durbar is completed."
But health condition apparently has not been a factor in his visits since he dissolved the House virtually splitting ruling CPN.
He has reached Dhangadhi on Friday not for any official government work but to address a rally of his faction to defend House dissolution and slam his erstwhile fellow comrades. But he has not gone to his office even after starting to venture out of Baluwatar more often in recent times.
Former chief secretary Bimal Koirala said governing from Baluwatar will create problems for bureaucracy. "That has a big effect on good governance and discipline. If officers feel only the works that PM wants are okayed, they will go to Baluwatar carrying only such files," Koirala reasoned. "The morale of bureaucratic leadership is hit and that promotes indiscipline even in ministers. They can feel why should they go to their office when the PM does not."
PM Oli dissolved the HoR without attending any parliamentary committee meeting. The Parliamentary Hearing Committee had twice written to him pointing that constitutional and political appointments have not been made as per the inclusive provisions of the Constitution but he did not turn up.
"I met PM in person and asked him to attend. There were health problems at times and he was busy at other. He did not turn up when the committee invited," chairman of the now dissolved committee Laxman Lal Karna told Setopati.
He did not attend meeting of even other parliamentary committees ignoring their summons. He twice ignored summons of the State Affairs Committee to discuss the issue of encroachment of Lipu Lekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura by India and the decision to name the country just Nepal instead of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal. He also ignored summons of the Development Committee twice.
"The House appoints the PM but he ignored the House. His sincerity toward the House was not seen," Karna rued. "He may have evaded the parliamentary committees as he would have to answer the questions of lawmakers."