Congress at odds over leading next CabinetThe ruling Nepali Congress failed to take a decision on the new government on Thursday even after a marathon meeting of the Central Working Committee.
The ruling Nepali Congress failed to take a decision on the new government on Thursday even after a marathon meeting of the Central Working Committee. The meeting was indecisive whether the party should field its own candidate or extend support to CPN-UML, the second largest party in Parliament.
Three top leaders of the party expressed their desire to become the next prime minister. Another meeting on Friday morning is expected to take a final decision on the matter. But several CWC members asked the party to lead the next government.
As incumbent PM Sushil Koirala, senior leader Sher Bahadur Deuba and Vice-president Ram Chandra Poudel stake their claim to the post, both Koirala and Deuba want to stop each other. And they do not care if UML Chairman KP Oli takes the advantage.
The UML has officially declared Oli’s candidacy for the top job. Koirala faced a serious “crisis of confidence” after his aides and insiders urged him to support the UML in government formation.
NC President Koirala floated two options at the meeting: back him wholeheartedly or lend support to a UML-led government. But he denied that a “gentlemen’s agreement” was reached to make Oli the next PM.
After addressing the meeting, Koirala asked the CWC members to present their views. “I will speak after you express your views,” he said, stating that it would make it easier for the party to take an official decision.
There were calls from several quarters to form an NC-led government to end the crisis in the Tarai and the diplomatic and political standoff with India, according to Koirala.
Former PM Deuba asked Koirala for his decision. “The PM should make it clear whether he is interested to lead the next government or he wants to support Oli,” Deuba demanded, presenting himself as another candidate.
“In my view, the NC should lead a consensus government,” said Deuba. “If the NC decides that it should lead the government, I’m ready to take up the responsibility.”
Vice-president Ram Chandra Poudel also had similar views that the NC should lead the new government by taking the UPCN (Maoist) into confidence.
However, Secretary Generals Prakash Man Singh and Krishna Prasad Sitaula, Joint General Secretary Purna Bahadur Khadka and leader Sujata Koirala said the NC should back Oli as the next PM. Sitaula recalled that the party had assured Oli the prime ministership during the course of the 16-point agreement, which formed the foundation for the new constitution. “We should keep our promise,” he said.
Close aides to Koirala, Forest Minister Mahesh Acharya and Law Minister Narahari Acharya also openly supported Oli. “The NC should not reclaim the
position as it will convey a negative message to the people,” the duo said.
Koirala loyalists including Minister for Information and Communications Minendra Rijal, Shekhar Koirala, Sashanka Koirala and Arjun Narsingh KC spoke for an NC-led government.