Dahal tells Bhattarai to be mentally prepared to step down if the situation demands so

KATHMANDU, FEB 13 – With his party taking a formal decision on Sunday to intensify efforts to form a national consensus government, Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal has told Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai to be mentally prepared to step down if the situation demands so, a leader of the Maoist party’s Standing Committee (SC), close to Dahal, said.

In a heated debate in Sunday’s SC meeting at Singha Durbar, Bhattarai, however, challenged the Dahal faction and the hardliners to lodge a no-confidence motion against the government if that is what they think is a viable solution.

In the face of an increasingly impatient hardline faction, which has long been demanding his resignation, Bhattarai tried to assure all that he need not resign as the peace and constitution writing processes are moving ahead, paving way for a unity government.

Party insiders say the Bhattarai faction is confident that the government will not change even if both the hardliners and the Dahal faction desire so.

“The SC meeting has made an understanding that the party should be ready to take any move, including the PM’s resignation, to form a unity government,” SC member Dev Gurung, a leader close to hardline leader Mohan Baidya, said.

Speaking in the meeting, Dahal underlined the urgent need of forming a unity government to facilitate the peace and constitution writing processes, which he said, have been affected after the Baidya camp, the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML decided to remain out of the government.

According to a leader, Dahal was very articulate on his stand that Bhattarai will have to resign if the opposition parties refuse to join a Bhattarai-led consensus government. Bhattarai, however, said he will not resign until the parties provide with an alternative to him.

The main opposition party, NC, has said its priority is peace and not government change, while a section of the UML led by its Chairman Jhala Nath Khanal is demanding the PM’s immediate resignation.

The SC meet was postponed for three days to hold consultations with other parties.

Leaders from the hardline faction say the party is likely to call back Bhattarai from the government within a couple of days.

“We are holding discussions to form a national consensus government as per the seven-point understanding,” said SC member Top Bahadur Rayamajhi, close to Bhattarai.

The Maoists have begun consultations with other parties on government change. The party on Sunday evening held talks with the Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha. “The first priority is to transform the present government into a national consensus one and, if that fails, we should seek other consensual candidates for the same,” said Rajendra Mahato, Chairman Nepal Sadbhwana Party.by KAMAL DEV BHATTARAI from ekantipur

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