Maoist thumbs down to PM stance

  • Meeting decides to hand over govt leadership to NC if a package deal is sealed

KATHMANDU, DEC 23 -

Giving Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai the cold shoulder, the extended office bearer meeting of the UCPN (Maoist) on Saturday elected to hand over the government leadership to the Nepali Congress (NC) provided the latter agrees a package deal, including elections in April-May.

The meeting entrusted the party’s four-member office bearers’ panel with the right to take any decision on the fundamentals of such a pact. The Bhattarai faction of the UCPN (M) has been accusing party Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal of being in a rush to hand over the government leadership to the NC, abandoning the party’s agendas. It has warned that “power handover in advance will cost the party dear”. The latest decision is likely to deepen the rift between Dahal and Bhattarai, though it is yet to be seen how far Dahal moves ahead bypassing Bhattarai while striking a deal with the other parties. The party virtually has rejected PM Bhattarai’s political line that the current government should first get the shape of national consensus before handing over the leadership to other parties.

Dahal enjoys the support of Vice-chairman Narayan Kaji Shrestha and Secretary Post Bahadur Bogati in the office bearers’ committee. Leaders close to the Dahal faction say bringing the opposition parties on board the incumbent government is not their priority if the other parties agree to address the Maoist agendas. During Saturday’s meeting, Dahal said the party should take an initiative pronto to form a unity government to hold elections in April-May at any cost. Leaders close to Bhattarai, however, declared their readiness to seek any alternative, but said that “handover of the government leadership to the NC would not be a wise decision to guarantee elections and peserve the achievements made by the dissolved CA”.

Bhattarai’s loyalists also suggested that the party should choose Chairman Dahal as a prime ministerial candidate instead of supporting NC President Sushil Koirala, who is accused of opposing federalism and 12-point understanding.

Though Dahal is against transforming the incumbent government into national consensus to ensure a dignified exit of the PM, it won’t be easy for the Maoist chief to hand over the government leadership to the NC, said the Bhattarai camp. “He cannot alone hand over power to the NC as the ruling ally, Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha, is in favour of a package deal, which includes transformation of the incumbent government into national consensus,” said PM’s political advisor Devendra Poudel.

Team Bhattarai also said Dahal cannot take decisions unilaterally as the government is responsible to implement all the agreements made by the parties.

Posted on: 2012-12-23 08:33