Bhattarai hints at quitting left alliance

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Oct 13, 2017-

Naya Shakti Nepal coordinator and former prime minister Baburam Bhattarai burst onto the scene 10 days ago not only joining a left electoral alliance of the CPN-UML and the CPN (Maoist Centre) but also announcing to contest the upcoming elections under “sun”, the UML’s electoral symbol.

For many it was a surprise move by Bhattarai, who has been quite critical not only of the UML but also of his own mother party.

But things seem to have changed in the past 10 days, particularly in the last three-four days’ exercise over constituency-sharing.

After the Maoist Centre’s reluctance to leave Gorkha constituencies for Bhattarai, the former Maoist ideologue on Thursday hinted at quitting the alliance. The Maoist Centre is learnt to be seeking to secure both the constituencies in Gorkha.

Bhattarai, as a Maoist leader, had won the first Constituent Assembly elections in 2008 from Gorkha-1 and the second CA from Gorkha-2.

The Maoist Centre’s insistence that it would like to field its candidates from both the constituencies has irked Bhattarai no end.

At a programme organised for the party’s youth leaders on Thursday, Bhattarai said that the Naya Shakti would go to the polls on its own if the situation so demanded.

“The Naya Shakti could go to the polls on its own if necessary. Be prepared for that,” the Naya Shakti Party, Nepal tweeted quoting Bhattarai as saying.

After the UML, the Maoist Centre and the Naya Shakti announced a left electoral alliance on October 3, a taskforce was formed on October 6 to divide constituencies among the partners. Though the team was given until Sunday to do the job, the alliance is yet to decide on the number of seats to be shared among the constituents.

Bhattarai was learnt to have been staking his claim to at least 15 constituencies for the federal elections.

When Bhattarai met UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli and Maoist Centre Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal on Tuesday seeking clarity on the number of seats to be set aside for his party, speculation machines were already into overdrive that things were not looking good for the Naya Shakti, which is struggling to find space in the country’s political spectrum.

But a row over a constituency for Bhattarai himself has driven the party into a corner. The Naya Shakti, which Bhattarai formed with an aim to create what he calls an “alternative political force”, fared poorly in the local elections.

Earlier there were talks that the Maoist Centre could let Bhattarai contest from Gorkha “only if he decides to run under the party’s hammer and sickle vote symbol”.

Ganga Shrestha, an NSN member who is in the alliance’s taskforce formed to decide constituencies for the allies, told the Post on Wednesday that Bhattarai would not leave his home district Gorkha.

Bhattarai’s personal secretary Bishwodeep Pande also claimed that he would contest from Gorkha-2 even if the alliance decides otherwise.

Asked if he would contest under the Maoist Centre’s election symbol in Gorkha, Pandey said on Wednesday: “No such proposal has come from the Maoist party yet.”

Published: 13-10-2017 07:40

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