“There will not be any consensus with the Maoists unless the prime minister tenders his resignation to the president,”

KATHMANDU, June 5: At a time when caretaker Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai has said he cannot run away from his responsibility and claims to be striving to find consensus under his leadership, Nepali Congress (NC) President Sushil Koirala has categorically rejected any effort towards consensus without the former´s prior resignation.

“There will not be any consensus with the Maoists unless the prime minister tenders his resignation to the president,” he said.

Koirala said since the ´unilateral´ decision of the prime minister to announce fresh Constituent Assembly (CA) elections has seriously vitiated the environment for national consensus, the prime minister has to step down unconditionally to pave the way for consensus among the parties.

“He should tender his resignation to the president, acknowledging and accepting that he has been automatically relieved of the office of prime minister as laid down in Article 38(7) of the Interim Constitution ,” Koirala told Republica at his office in Sanepa, Monday. “That is the Nepali Congress bottom line for any efforts towards national consensus.”

Koirala ruled out any meaningful talks with the Maoists in the present environment of mistrust. “The prime minister visited me the other day for talks, but we hardly talked for five minutes,” he said. “The Maoists have breached our trust time and again.”

The prime minister´s decision to announce fresh elections for the CA is unconstitutional, a visibly-irritated Koirala said, adding that the unilateral decision has vitiated the environment for talks.

“The caretaker prime minister has no right to remain in the government, either on constitutional or moral grounds,” he said. “We will now fight both a legal and a constitutional battle against the Maoists.”

“As a mass-based party, we will go to the people and tell them that the recent Maoist move is definitely part of their conspiracy to capture state power,” he said, just before attending a meeting of the 19-party alliance that is to hold a mass protest rally in the capital on Friday. The alliance includes the CPN-UML and various fringe parties.

The alliance is organizing the protest rally to exert pressure on the Maoists to vacate the post of prime minister.

“The ball is now in the Maoist court,” Koirala said.

Meanwhile, NC Vice-president Ram Chandra Poudel has ruled out the possibility of another CA election.

Asked if the Nepali Congress was ready to go for polls, NC Vice-president Poudel said polls were not possible at this juncture.

“First, as per the five-point agreement reached earlier, the present government has to go and an NC-led consensus government should be in place for any future negotiations to take place,” Poudel told Republica. “The new consensus government will then lead discussions over all options to resolve the present constitutional crisis.”

“We can discuss alternatives for addressing the current constitutional crisis only after the resignation of the prime minister,” he further said.

However, Poudel disowned the on-going efforts by some of his party´s former lawmakers to reinstate the Constituent Assembly. “The demand of some former NC lawmakers to reinstate the Constituent Assembly is their personal view, not the party´s official position,” he said. “The revival of the CA is not a matter of discussion at all for now.”

Arguing that the Maoists have not prepared the necessary legal and constitutional grounds for holding another CA election, Poudel alleged that the announcement of the fresh election was just a ploy to prolong their stay in power. “There is neither any intention on the part of the Maoists to hold CA elections nor a situation conducive to it.”KOSH RAJ KOIRALA from republica

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