Four ruling parties agree to continue partnershipDiscussions over government formation will be held once the Election Commission presents poll results to the President.
Tika R Pradhan
With the count of first-past-the-post votes completed and that of the Proportional Representation ballots nearing end, the ruling coalition partners held their first meeting at Baluwatar and decided to continue with the existing five-party alliance led by the Nepali Congress.
The coalition’s leaders have issued a joint statement, pledging to give continuity to the coalition, thereby ending the possibility of all other options of forming the government.
“The result of the recent federal and provincial polls has reaffirmed the significance and necessity of the existing coalition,” stated the press statement jointly issued by Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba, CPN (Maoist Centre) chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal, CPN (Unified Socialist) chair Madhav Kumar Nepal and Rastriya Janamorcha vice-chair Durga Poudel.
“It is essential to give continuity to this coalition in order to face the existing challenges of the country. The result of the polls has given a clear message that parties should move ahead with cooperation on the path of political stability and economic prosperity.”
However, the question of who between Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba and CPN (Maoist Centre) chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal would lead the government for the first half of the five-year term is not clear yet.
The four leaders have also decided to seriously evaluate the election results as there were some disagreements and problems within the coalition before the elections.
During the two-day informal meeting, most of the Maoist Centre’s office bearers had expressed serious dissatisfaction over the lack of “vote transfer” from the Congress which, they said, led to the defeat of many of its candidates.
Earlier, at the meeting of Maoist Centre’s office bearers on Saturday, they had demanded the party leadership to keep all options open for discussions even outside the existing coalition.
But with Monday’s joint statement, the chances of the Maoist Centre or Nepali Congress attempting to join hands with the second-largest party, CPN-UML, are almost over.
“It won’t be ethical for the parties in the coalition to break their commitment made through the statement,” said Himalal Puri, a leader of Rastriya Janamorcha who attended the coalition’s meeting.
The Monday meeting of the four-party coalition, however, did not discuss anything with regard to the formation of the new government.
“We have not entered into discussions of government formation yet as there are lots of works pending with the election results,” said Dev Prasad Gurung, the Maoist Centre general secretary who was present at the meeting. “We will deal with it once the Election Commission presents the election results to the President.”
Prior to the meeting, Home Minister Bal Krishna Khand and the government’s spokesperson Gyanendra Bahadur Karki met Maoist Centre chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal at his residence in Khumaltar.
Dahal had met CPN (Unified Socialist) chair Madhav Kumar Nepal and Janamat Party’s chair CK Raut at Nepal’s residence in Koteshwar before they headed for the Baluwatar meeting.
According to insiders of the ruling coalition, the three leaders met on Monday in a bid to form an alliance within the Congress-led coalition, so as to create an environment to ensure Dahal gets the premiership.
Some leaders privy to the meeting said the leaders of the four parties also expressed their serious concerns over the abrupt emergence of Rastriya Swatantra Party that won a significant number of seats.
“The leaders have also agreed to study the abrupt emergence of the Rastriya Swatantra Party, although we have not mentioned anything about it in our statement,” said one of the leaders present at the meeting.
Now with the four coalition partners deciding to further strengthen the existing coalition, they will most certainly form the new government by inviting more parties into the alliance, leaders said.
“Loktantrik Samajbadi Party has already requested to join the coalition,” said Puri, the Rastriya Janamorcha leader. “But I think Janata Samajbadi Party will also join the coalition as its chairman has already said his party’s ties with UML are over with the completion of the polls.”