Maoist Centre in bid to take a leaf out of CPN-UML book?

- ROSHAN SEDHAI, Kathmandu
Situation is such that neither the NC nor the UML appears ready to support each other for a national consensus government. It makes the Maoist Centre the clear frontrunner to lead unity government - Barsha Man Pun, Maoist leader

Jun 19, 2016-Following the first Constituent Assembly (CA) election in 2008, the CPN-UML, the third largest party in Parliament, was the biggest beneficiary of the murky politics of a hung parliament. 

The party led two governments in succession—under Madhav Kumar Nepal and Jhala Nath Khanal from May 2009 to August 2011—taking advantage of bad blood between the two largest parties—then UCPN (Maoist), which is now CPN (Maoist Centre), and the Nepali Congress.

In 2013 CA elections, the Maoist party lapsed into the position the UML held earlier and the NC bounced back to become the single largest party. The result, however, was a hung parliament again. 

So, can the Maoist Centre repeat the pattern by employing strategies from CPN-UML playbook? Some of its leaders don’t rule out the possibility.

With the main opposition NC and the Madhes-based parties refusing to extend support to Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli government in its bid to hold elections and the governing UML bent on stopping the NC from taking over government reins, the possibility of the Maoist Centre is not farfetched, say Maoist leaders. 

“Situation is such that neither the NC nor the UML appears ready to support each other for a national consensus government,” said Barsha Man Pun, a senior Maoist Centre leader. “It makes the Maoist Centre the clear frontrunner to lead consensus government.” The Maoist leadership has already begun lobbying at top political level to lead a consensus government. Maoist leaders say the party would continue support to the current coalition if consensus cannot be forged on unity government. 

As per the election plan approved by the government on Thursday, local body elections will be held by December 2016, state assembly elections in April-May 2017 and elections to the federal parliament will be conducted by December 2017. 

The main opposition NC and the agitating Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha have dismissed the possibilities of elections. They have hinted at not extending support to the polls until provincial boundaries are restructured taking the grievances of the agitating groups into account. 

Parties in the governing coalition too look divided on whether PM Oli should remain in power till the elections. 

Maoist Centre Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, who has been making a pitch for himself as a candidate to lead consensus government, on Saturday told reporters in Biratnagar that “elections are not possible without consensus”. 

 “The government may have taken initiative for constitution implementation, but elections are not possible without consensus,” said Dahal. “Polls should be conducted only after taking the NC and the Morcha into confidence.” Dahal’s remarks come at a time when some UML leaders are stressing that the Oli government should go for elections even if the Morcha refuses to participate. 

While Oli is seeking to consolidate power by turning incumbent government into national unity one, the Maoist Centre and the NC have been seeking a fresh deal on power sharing and have been calling on Oli to pave the way. 

NC leaders claim that Oli is the main hurdle. 

They say the NC will first try to form government under its leadership and have hinted that the party could rather support the Maoist Centre instead, depending on how things pan out. “Our party is exploring various possibilities. But it’s hard to exactly say what will happen,” said NC leader Ramesh Lekhak. 

Published: 19-06-2016 08:18

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