Tue. Mar 19th, 2019

NC‚ UML unlikely to join Bhattarai-led coalition


KATHMANDU: Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai, after being able to make a breakthrough in the peace process on Tuesday, may have a genuine reason to remain in power till the promulgation of a new constitution. But the non-Maoist parties, including Madhes-based ones, are less likely to give him a chance for the same.

Sarvendranath Shukla, spokesperson for the Tarai Madhes Democratic Party, said if Bhattarai remained in power till May 27, it would be his government, which would hold the next general elections, and other parties do not want that to happen. He, however, said the Bhattarai-led government should remain in power till new constitution is adopted.

“The Nepali Congress has the legitimate right to lead the government that will hold the next election under the new constitution. Maoists are still learning about electoral democracy. Neither the national nor the international stakeholders have confidence in them,” Shukla said.

He, however, said the near conclusion of the peace process had restored faith between Maoist and non-Maoist parties, particularly between the UCPN-M and the NC, which until a few weeks ago, viewed each other with utter disdain, and the same momentum of trust should continue.

“A consensus government to be formed after May 27 will have enormous challenges of pacifying disgruntled groups on the one hand, and holding free and fair elections on the other, and therefore, major stakeholders should become part of a new broader coalition government,” Shukla said, adding that the NC should join the Bhattarai-led government even for a few days so that the UCPN-M could also participate in NC-led government after May 27.

NC leader Bimalendra Nidhi said the spirit of seven-point agreement was to form a consensus government under the leadership of the NC before May 27. “We have not yet discussed issues of formation of a new government. If the Maoists are willing to join NC-led government after May 27, then we can join the Bhattarai-led government,” he said, adding that the issue of unity government would be discussed only after the remaining issues of the peace process were sorted out within a day or two.

Nidhi was of the view that the broader coalition will reflect ownership of the new constitution, and therefore, parties should try to induct maximum number of stakeholders in the new consensus government.

CPN-UML leader Pradip Gyawali said his party continued to believe that the four-point agreement with the Madhesis – the foundation of the Bhattarai-led government – was flawed and as long as Bhattarai leads the government on that basis, his party would not join the government.

He said the issue of unity government would figure next week when prominent leaders sit to dwell on vexed constitutional issues. “We will probably settle the issue of unity government in a package while discussing contentious constitutional issues,” Gyawali clarified.

NC leader Dr Shekhar Koirala said GP’s courageous step made 12-point agreement possible when some major international powers, including the US, were opposed to it. “Therefore, we want NC-led government when the constitution is promulgated. We do not merely want to lead an electoral government,” he said, “We will not join the Bhattarai-led government just to make things easy for him. We will join his government only if Bhattarai publicly pledges handing over power to us before May 27.” by RAM KUMAR KAMAT from tht

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