Congress hopeful of securing presidency after Maoist Centre’s decisionCongress leaders say Oli could propose Madhav Nepal for new President to create division between Dahal and Deuba.
With the decision of the CPN (Maoist Centre) office bearers on Monday to elect a new President through national consensus, Nepali Congress leaders said they have become more confident about their nominee getting elected to the top post. The presidential election is slated for March 9 and the Maoist Centre has entrusted Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal with the responsibility of taking the final call on whom to support for President.
“This is a good decision and we will talk with Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal further,” senior Nepali Congress leader Ram Chandra Poudel said. Poudel is one of the aspirants for the presidential post from the Nepali Congress, but the party has yet to announce its nominee.
Nepali Congress leaders are confident that the ruling Maoist Centre and a few other parties that are not part of the government will also support the Congress’ candidate.
Some Congress leaders said the Maoist Centre’s decision was expected. “The decision to entrust Dahal to take the final call on presidential elections was expected,” said Nepali Congress Chief Whip Ramesh Lekhak, “We will expedite talks with other parties and within the party as well.”
Besides Poudel and Situala, some Nepali Congress leaders are mulling the name of party President Sher Bahadur Deuba for future president.
This is one greater possibility to secure the post of president by forwarding the name of Deuba but no formal discussion has entered into the party meeting, the Nepali Congress leader said.
An office bearer of the Nepali Congress said that time has come for Dahal to take a firm and concrete decision as the CPN-UML, the largest party in the ruling coalition, is hoping to appoint its nominee as President with Maoist support.
The UML leaders have been claiming that their nominee should be made President as per an agreement reached with the Maoist Centre in December.
On December 25, the CPN-UML had supported Dahal as prime minister reportedly based on the understanding that the Maoist party would support UML’s nominee for President.
However, Prime Minister Dahal has now said that the understanding with the UML has become irrelevant after the Nepali Congress extended his government a vote of trust on January 10. Since then, Dahal has been saying that the new President should be elected through a national consensus.
“We will also definitely put pressure on Dahal to make a decision in our favour. Our talks with Dahal over the past days have remained positive, so we hope he will not betray us,” the Congress leader said.
Congress leader Krishna Prasad Situala, another aspirant for President, said that as of now talks with Prime Minister Dahal have been progressing positively but they have yet to hold final and decisive talks with the prime minister.
“Since I am no longer an office bearer of the party, I don’t know much about how the process will move ahead. Now it is up to the party president, vice president, general secretaries and others how to shore up support in favour of a Congress candidate,” he said.
The Nepali Congress is discussing reviving the old five-party alliance together with other like-minded political forces but the UML.
Leaders have also assumed that UML chair KP Oli could propose senior communist leader and chairman of the CPN (Unified Socialist) Madhav Kumar Nepal for new President. “Oli is playing different cards, and his new Madhav Nepal card will not work,” said Min Bishwakarma, a Congress leader, adding, “Proposing Nepal for new President is nothing but an attempt to create a division between Dahal and Deuba.”
After Nepali Congress President Deuba refused to support Dahal for next prime minister, Oli immediately rescued Dahal and helped him secure the post on December 25.