Seize the day

  • As UML, MC move towards govt formation, time is right to discuss Madhesi issues too

Jan 29, 2018-

Although the CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Centre) campaigned on a platform that promised that they would finally bring stability to Nepal, they are having difficulties holding together their alliance. The two parties had initially promised that they would unite immediately after the election. 

It has now been well over a month since the elections ended, and the two parties are still having trouble with their alliance. The main problem is that UML as a party seems opposed to having MC Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal as its main leader, though a section within seems open to the idea. The Maoists meanwhile state that they cannot merge with the UML unless Dahal becomes chairman of the unified party.  

The difficulties in unifying the two parties are understandable. After all, they have vastly differing backgrounds and positions on a number of issues.  It is to the credit of the leaders of both parties that they have managed to maintain their alliance so far and talks for seat distribution in the upper house and provincial assemblies are at least moving. 

Soon after the election, Nepali Congress (NC) leaders promised to support Dahal for the prime ministerial position if he quit the left alliance. But Dahal maintained that he could not immediately abandon the UML as this would run contrary to campaign promises he had made.  

The UML and MC now appear to be nearing agreement on the composition of the provincial governments. The left alliance is in a position to form governments in six out of the seven provinces. Deliberations over who will lead each of these governments have been a rather complex task. It is likely that the two parties will remain united and form a government even though they might not unite in the near future.

However, there is one crucial area where the two parties have not even begun negotiations. This is regarding the policies of the new government. Granted, it might not be yet necessary to deal with most aspects of this issue immediately. But the leadership of the two parties would do well to at least reach a tentative agreement on some of the most crucial national issues, such as that regarding Madhesi demands.

During the elections last year, UML leaders repeatedly stated that they will not accept any demand for a constitutional amendment in the near future. Maoist leaders, on their part, have remained silent on the issue so far. As the Maoists have historically supported Madhesi demands, their foray into the larger fold could lead to a compromise between the UML and the Madhesi parties. 

This could be a positive development. Should he lead the new government and Maoists form a stable governing alliance with his party, UML Chairman Oli will be keen to look for political accommodation with the Madhesi groups. With the elections now done with and a strong majority to back him, Oli should seize the moment and strike a political deal with the Madhesi groups.  

Published: 29-01-2018 08:20

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