On presidency, Maoist Centre chair Dahal has feet in two boatsSome Maoist leaders say they have no option but to deny UML the presidency given Oli’s ‘regressive’ past.
Tika R Pradhan
As the nomination day for the presidential election is approaching, the third largest party that leads the current government with the backing of the CPN-UML and later got the support of other parties including the Nepali Congress, the CPN (Maoist Centre) seems inching closer to the Congress.
Some leaders of the party said the Maoist Centre could support the Nepali Congress in the presidential polls scheduled for March 9.
“We cannot surrender all the power to the defender of regressive forces Oli (KP),” said one of the office bearers of the Maoist Centre asking not to be named. “I believe our party will gradually go for the decision to join hands with the Congress instead.”
The nomination date for the presidential election is just eight days away, but Maoist party is still undecided on whose candidate to support for President–the UML’s or the Congress’.
Although the Maoist Centre has been saying there must be a national consensus on a presidential candidate, the party is growing closer to the Congress instead of the UML, which supported Maoist chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal to become prime minister after the Congress refused him the post.
Since most of the Maoist Centre leaders are in favour of joining hands with the Congress as they reportedly fear Oli could start a ploy to unseat Dahal from prime minister after securing the post of President for a UML nominee.
Maoist Centre insiders also said it was Oli, who breached the December 25 agreement by raising the issue of House dissolution in Parliament.
“Since Oli violated the December 25 agreement by speaking in favour of House dissolution in Parliament, we don’t need to stick to the agreement anymore” argued Matrika Yadav, secretary of the Maoist Centre.
Asked whether his party could join hands with the Congress in the upcoming presidential elections, Yadav said his party won’t have any other option now.
“We don’t have any other option now than to partner with the Congress as we believe Oli wouldn’t stop his regressive moves,” Yadav told the Post. “Our Standing Committee meeting will take a decision on this soon.”
Of late, Maoist Centre leaders have started to speak in such a way to give an impression that the party wants to take both the UML and the Congress together which doesn’t seem plausible.
Prime Minister Dahal has been meeting a number of Congress leaders from both factions so as to take both the Deuba and Gagan Thapa-Shekhar Koirala-led factions in confidence.
Dahal is suspicious of Oli after he attempted to create pressure on him using Rastriya Swatantra Party and Rastriya Prajatantra Party.
Some Congress insiders said Dahal also fears that Oli could support the Congress to lead the government for a full term if he ended his partnership with the UML and joined hands with the Congress.
But some Maoist leaders believe Oli could do his best to keep the existing coalition floating even by supporting the Maoist Centre’s candidate for President.
Oli’s recent statements about the possibility of a collapse of the current coalition show his apparent frustration. His two-hour-long one-on-one with the prime minister on Thursday was also a bid to save the existing alliance. According to UML leaders, Oli at the meeting reminded Dahal of the December 25 agreement to allow the UML to appoint a new President.
Deputy Prime Minister and senior vice-chair of the Maoist Centre Narayan Kaji Shrestha has said his party won’t accept regression anymore and wants to safeguard nationalism, ensure prosperity and complete the peace process. “If we can create an environment of trust to ensure these commitments, no one can break our partnership or else it cannot be saved,” Shrestha said while talking to reporters at Surkhet Airport on Thursday. “We have no intention to change the existing power equation.”
Shrestha said his party just wants to address the situation created after the ‘historic’ support extended to the government during the vote of confidence.
“We must take the main opposition into confidence in the presidential election and ensure national consensus.”
The Maoist Centre and the Congress have already started a partnership with their affiliate employee unions in the federal parliament forming an alliance during Thursday’s election of the Federal Parliament Secretariat Employees Union by alienating the UML. The results were, however, mixed.
Prime Minister Dahal, according to party leaders, will make utmost efforts to forge consensus among all parties including the UML on a presidential candidate.
“But if Oli rejected the idea of a consensus candidate, we will have to elect a new President on the basis of majority votes,” said Devendra Poudel, secretary of the Maoist Centre. “Once the party leadership reaches a conclusion on the matter, a meeting of the standing committee will endorse the decision.”