What forced UCPN (Maoist) to backtrack on its earlier decision?A day after coming eerily close to toppling the Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli-led government and setting in motion events to form a new government under his own leadership, the UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal had a change of heart.
A day after coming eerily close to toppling the Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli-led government and setting in motion events to form a new government under his own leadership, the UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal had a change of heart.
On Thursday, his party backtracked for the “time being” from withdrawing its support to the CPN-UML-led coalition government—a move which was triggered by, according to sources, “pressure from party leaders”.
The party on Wednesday had officially taken a decision to form a consensus government under its leadership and it was all set to withdraw its support to the government on Thursday.
But as Dahal wavered, the dramatic turn of events deflated excitement in the main opposition Nepali Congress, which was set to take the centre stage in the formation of new government, and injected exhilaration in the ruling coalition.
So what made Dahal change his mind?
The sources said during Thursday’s meeting of the party, Chairman Dahal faced sharp criticism from senior leaders who alleged that he had fallen into the hands of “foreign forces”. The party’s ministers in the Oli government are said to have even threatened to quit the party, if Chairman Dahal continued with his plans to change the government.
According to the sources, Deputy Prime Minister and Energy Minister Top Bahadur Rayamajhi stood strongly in defence of the government during the meeting. “Whatever is happening is part of a grand design of foreign forces to push the country towards political instability so we should not support it,” a leader quoted Rayamajhi as saying. Other Maoist ministers then lapped up the position taken by Rayamajhi. Home Minister Shakti Basnet and Education Minister Giriraj Mani Pokhrel also stood against withdrawing the support to government.
However, party Vice-chairman Narayan Kaji Shrestha and Secretary Barsha Man Pun insisted on changing the government, but their call got lost in the din of majority of leaders demand that the party should not pull out of the coalition. A Maoist leader requesting anonymity claimed that Dahal and senior leaders were under pressure from other “external elements” not to withdraw support to the government, indicating that “influential individuals” from both the neighbours had weighed in both in favour and against government change.
PM Oli’s efforts to sweeten the deal was yet another reason why the UCPN (Maoist), or its Chairman Dahal for that matter, decided to backtrack on its Wednesday’s decision. According to leaders, Oli has assured Dahal that he would pave the way for the latter to become the next prime minister once the budget is approved.
During a late night meeting of Maoist senior leaders and Oli on Wednesday, Oli had requested them not to withdraw support till the government presented the fiscal budget.