Nepali Congress' refusal to join protests raises eyebrowsDahal-Nepal faction reached out to it but Deuba wants to wait for verdict on House dissolution before deciding on protest.
The plan to hold a joint agitation of political parties against the dissolution of the House of Representatives has come unstuck after the Nepali Congress rejected a proposal of the faction led by Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Madhav Nepal for it.
The Dahal-Nepal faction had planned to announce the joint protest that included the Janata Samajbadi Party besides the Nepali Congress on Thursday but had to call off the plan after it did not hear from the Congress party.
“After the Nepali Congress decided not to join in the protests with us, we are now thinking of charting out a seperate strategy,” said a central committee member of the Nepal Communist Party.
So far the three main parties in the dissolved House of Representatives have already held separate protest programmes against the dissolution. On Sunday it was the Janata Samajbadi Party, on Monday the Nepali Congress and on Tuesday the Dahal-Nepal faction of the Nepal Communist Party.
‘There are proposals to hold a joint protest but as of now we are not joining any one and this is our decision taken by the party committee,” senior Congress leader Minendra Rijal told the Post.
The Nepali Congress is deeply divided over whether to hold protests against the dissolved House of Representative with party President Sher Bahadur Deuba against it while the faction led by senior leader Ram Chandra Poudel is calling for the reinstatement of the lower house.
“Deuba has refused to meet our leaders so we could not hold discussion with the Nepali Congress to hold the joint protest,”said Narayan Kaji Shrestha, the Nepal Communist Party spokesman who commands the protests launched by his party. “Poudel was positive.”
Deuba has publicly said that the Nepali Congress should wait for the court's verdict and should not be in a hurry to hold the protests.
More than a dozen writs have been filed at the Supreme Court calling for House reinstatement arguing that its dissolution on December 20 by President Bidya Devi Bhandari at the recommendation of Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli’s Cabinet and announcement of midterm elections on April 30 and May 10 was “unconstitutional”.
The five-member constitutional bench of the Supreme Court has given the government up to January 3 to submit the reasons for the dissolution and hearing on it will resume on January 6.
The faction led by Poudel, however, is in favour of holding protests continuously so that the court realises people's power.
Addressing the faction’s mass meeting in Kathmandu on Tuesday, Nepal Commmunist Party chair Dahal had called upon all political forces to jointly counter the anti-constitutional and anti-democratic move of Oli.
Nepali Congress, on its part, is planning to hold protests on its own.
“We have decided to hold protests separately, not joining hands with other parties. This is what our Central Working Committee has decided,” said Rijal.
But when and if the protests will take place will depend on the Supreme Court’s verdict.
“The case against the House dissolution is pending in the Supreme Court,” he said. “We have to wait until the court gives a verdict. After the court's verdict, we will decide accordingly.”
With the Nepali Congress not joining hands with the Dahal-Nepal faction of the communist party, it is unlikely that the Janata Samajbadi Party will join.
After the Congress refused to hold joint protests, now there are slim chances of the parties staging the protests together, said Rajendra Mahato, senior leader of the Janata Samajbadi Party.
Mahato was also critical of the stance taken by the Nepali Congress.
“Is not the Congress that should have taken the initiative to hold a joint protest?” said Mahato. “Since the Nepali Congress was the primary opposition in the dissolved House, it should organise and lead the protest. It is its moral and political duty. ”
It is not only political parties but also analysts that have been taken by surprise by the Congress decision.
“Nepali Congress’ decision not to hold protests has seriously raised a question whether the Nepali Congress leadership is supporting Oli’s move,” Hari Rokka, a political analyst, told the Post.