UCPN (Maoist) divided over dialogue conditions

- POST REPORT, Kathmandu

Mar 1, 2015-

Conflicting views in the UCPN (Maoist) about resuming formal talks with the ruling parties have placed party Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal in a tight spot.

Senior leader Baburam Bhattarai says the party should not sit for talks until the ruling coalition agrees to scrap the ongoing majority process in the Constituent Assembly, and return the disputed issues of constitution writing to the Political Dialogue and Consensus Committee that he leads.

Following Bhattarai’s advice, Dahal, while addressing a mass rally in Khulamanch on Saturday, said negotiations could begin immediately if the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML agree to revive the PDCC.

The parties have already made it clear that they would not accept any preconditions for talks.

Vice-chairman Narayan Kaji Shrestha is of the view that the preconditions will make negotiations difficult. He is of the view that the party should be ready for talks if the prime minister expresses his commitment to write a new constitution on the basis of consensus. Shrestha said that the ruling parties cannot scrap the process initiated by the sovereign CA.

The Questionnaire Committee of the CA has already prepared 232 objective questions on eight contentious issues and the CA has received them.

“After a cross-party agreement, the ongoing majority process will be rendered irrelevant but the parties cannot scrap the process initiated by the CA,” said Shrestha.

According to a senior Maoist leader, due to pressure from Shrestha and Bhattarai, Dahal is undecided about joining talks.

Therefore, according to leaders, Dahal prefers informal talks. Besides, the Maoist chairman faces pressure also from members of the 30-party alliance.  Madhesi Janadhikar Forum Nepal-Loktantrik Chairman Bijaya Kumar Gachhadar is pressing him for dialogue.

While Upendra Yadav, chairman of the MJF-Nepal is pressing him not to accept talks until there is full guarantee that the constitution is drafted in consensus. The speeches of Gachhadar and Yadav on Saturday evidently suggested divergent opinions.

There have been no initiatives from either side for resuming dialogue since the agitating parties wrapped up a phase of protest on Saturday. Parties in both blocs claimed that negotiations would begin after Saturday’s rally.

Senior Maoist leader Bhattarai is currently in India and will return on March 5. Talking briefly to reporters on Sunday, Dahal said the opposition is ready for talks if the ruling parties are prepared.

UML urges immediate talks

Determined to complete the constitution-writing process without further delay, the ruling CPN-UML has decided to resume negotiations among the parties for drafting the new charter.

A meeting of the party’s Standing Committee on Sunday stressed the need to restart dialogue immediately for resolving the disputed issues of statute drafting. The party also decided to resume the Constituent Assembly proceedings if cross-party talks fail to resolve the disputes, those concerning state restructuring in particular.

“We want to complete the constitution writing process at the earliest. Consensus and negotiations are our top priorities. If there is no accord, CA proceedings should resume keeping the door for negotiations open,” said party Vice-chairman Bhim Rawal. The party also refuted the charges made by UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal and other opposition leaders during Saturday’s demonstration in the Capital that UML chief KP Oli had been spoiling the environment for consensus.

“Despite such irresponsible remarks, we are firm on making constitution writing a success at the earliest, and institutionalise the political gains,” General Secretary Ishwor Pokharel said in a statement.

Mainali and Subba picked central members

The party picked two of its deserters—Radha Krishna Mainali and Bijaya Subba—for central positions. Mainali and Subba were accepted by all members for the positions following their self-criticisms and commitments to the party.

Mainali, a founding leader of the party and a key member of the Jhapa uprising, was expelled after he supported then king Gyanendra’s coup. He was appointed the education minister during the deposed king’s direct rule. Four years ago, he joined the Maoist party as its central advisor but had been inactive lately. Subba had quit the UML before the second CA polls to form the Federal Socialist Party Nepal.

Published: 02-03-2015 08:25

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