All talk‚ no action yet again, Parties sit for dialogue but refuse to give up their stand

KATHMANDU: Major political forces — the Unified CPN-Maoist, Nepali Congress, CPN-UML and the United Democratic Madhesi Front — today sat together for talks in a bid to search for an ever-elusive consensus, but as usual reached nowhere.

Today’s talks, held at UCPN-M Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s residence in Lazimpat, once again ended inconclusively after coalition partners and opposition parties stuck to their guns when it came to the issue of change of guard.

Though coalition parties were ready to accept a new unity government under NC’s leadership, they came pretty strong on their stance that Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai would leave office only after all the unresolved issues were settled.

The coalition partners sought consensus on two issues — settling unresolved issues related to the new constitution and determining ways for promulgating the constitution — before they handed the mantle over to NC.

NC and UML on the other hand refused to budge from their stance that a unity government should be formed first in order to settle the said issues. Maoist Chairman Dahal put four agendas on the table: Holding consensus on unsettled issues of the new constitution, deciding whether to go for fresh CA polls or revive the dissolved CA, handing over government leadership to NC to form a national unity government and the budget for new fiscal year. NC leader Ram Sharan Mahat said NC and UML strictly put their stance that formation of a unity government could only create an atmosphere for consensus on all unsettled issues. “So, first there should be the change of guard,” he added.

Sources said NC and UML refused to touch upon other agendas, saying changing the government could only pave way for consensus on other issues. Sources added that NC and UML leaders said at the meeting that a unity government was the only way to shrink the trust deficit between the coalition partners and opposition parties.

“Let’s forget the past. Let’s look to future. We have no alternative left except forging consensus. So, let’s focus our dialogue to achieve it,” Sadbhawana Party Chairman Rajendra Mahato quoted Dahal as telling the meeting.

NC and UML leaders had urged the coalition partners to bring only a downsized budget for regular expenses, but UCPN-M and UDMF told them that the government would bring the full-budget, according to Mahato. He said today’s meeting ended with an understanding that the parties would continue dialogue.

Mohan Baidhya-led CPN-Maoist, which is also a major force in Nepal’s political sphere since its split from the UCPN-M, however, was not invited at the meeting. “We were not invited,” said Dev Gurung of CPN-M, ruling out possibility of success of any such talks that are held in the absence of his party.THT

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