Congress quarrel in Koshi causes cracks in coalitionMaoist chief whip counters as Congress lawmaker in federal parliament demanded formation of a Congress-led government.
Lawmakers from coalition partners Nepali Congress and CPN (Maoist Centre) have started to dispute the need for a change in the government leadership.
The disagreement in the alliance began after lawmaker Sanjay Gautam of the ruling Congress party argued that a change in guard had become inevitable due to the government's failure to deliver.
Gautam said the government led by Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal had got disillusioned as it did not know its actions and directions.
"Development activities have stalled, the market is not monitored, and national pride projects have been left in limbo," the former minister told a meeting of the House of Representatives on Friday.
He urged leaders from across the party line to form a national consensus government led by Nepali Congress, the largest party in Parliament, to spare the country an [political] accident. "We shouldn't waste time any more as we have no other option," Gautam said.
Then Hitraj Pandey, chief whip of the Maoist Centre, countered Gautam and said his demand was premature.
"A voice for a national consensus government has just been raised here in the House," Pandey said. "While we make efforts to take the nation forward, new issues and preconceptions must not derail the goal."
Lawmakers from the two parties started the debate in the federal parliament at a time when a Congress faction in the Koshi provincial assembly challenged the party's official decision to support Maoist Centre’s Indra Bahadur Angbo as the chief ministerial candidate.
A group of eight Congress provincial members of Koshi on Thursday fielded party lawmaker Kedar Karki in the chief ministerial race, challenging the party's official decision to support Maoist leader Angbo. The CPN-UML, the largest party in the assembly, has backed Karki's claim.
The Congress lawmakers, who favour Karki as the chief minister, are backed by Shekhar Koirala, the leader of the party's dissident faction. Of late, he has publicly criticised some government decisions and those of party president Deuba.
When lawmakers from the coalition partners argued in the federal parliament and the provincial assembly on Friday, top leaders from the two parties were busy holding a series of meetings in Kathmandu to resolve the problem.
Deuba called the party's central working committee meeting to discuss the matter. Just before the meeting, he reached the prime minister's residence at Baluwatar to meet Dahal and discuss the way forward.
But the meeting was deferred till Saturday after Koirala didn't show up.
Efforts by Deuba and other key leaders of the coalition to convince Karki to withdraw his candidacy failed as Koirala firmly stands in favour of him.