NC, Tarai parties persuade Dahal to lead new govt

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Jan 4, 2018-Amid political deadlock over formation of new government, leaders of the left alliance, the Nepali Congress and Madhes-based parties are busy exploring possibilities of forming a non-UML government.

Though leaders from the left alliance maintain that CPN-UML Chairman KP Oli will lead new government, informal cross-party meetings taking place quietly in Kathmandu suggest something else.

With the UML and CPN (Maoist Centre) still far from a power-sharing deal, leaders of the NC and the Madhes-based parties are reaching out to Maoist Centre Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal. 

A group of NC leaders have been constant touch with Dahal and other second-rung Maoist Centre leaders about the government formation. 

According to sources, NC senior leader Krishna Prasad Sitaula has been in constant touch with Dahal. “Sitaula held a long conversation with Dahal about the government formation and other issues on Sunday,” said an NC leader, requesting anonymity. Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba has tasked Sitaula to reach out to Dahal and convince him to lead the new government.

Also engaged in talks with Dahal are top Madhesi leaders from the Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal and the Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum-Nepal also met with Dahal and discussed the post-poll scenario and possible equations on government formation.  

“My meeting with Dahal was to reaffirm our position about the constitution amendment as Dahal will hold important role in government and Parliament,” said Rajendra Mahato, a presidium member of the RJP-N. “The alternative to Oli is possible only if the left alliance could not form the government. We may go for another alternative or support such a government if the left alliance fails to lead the next government. That we will get to know only after the National Assembly elections.” 

Another top Madhesi leader Mahendra Yadav, who has also been touch with Dahal, said that a failure of the left alliance would pave the way for Dahal to lead new government. 

“I rejected the proposal to join the government to be led by the left alliance during my meeting with Dahal. Amendment to the constitution remains our bottom line,” said Yadav, another RJP-N presidium member. “But several alternatives or models of government are under discussions at various political levels.”

Senior Maoist Centre leader Narayan Kaji Shrestha confirmed recent political engagements between NC, Madhesi leaders and Maoist Centre chief. “NC leader Sitaula and other leaders are approaching us with a proposal on government formation. But we are committed to form a new government of the left alliance,” Shrestha said. 

NC leaders are persuading Dahal to take up the leadership of the new government, with the issue of government formation also figuring in the NC office-bearers meeting on Tuesday, but without elaborate discussions. 

During the meeting, sources close to the NC president said, Sitaula asked Deuba about party General Secretary Shashank Koirala’s recent public remark that he was working on breaking the left alliance. Maoist leaders are saying that they are committed to support CPN-UML Chairman KP Oli as a new prime minister. 

Amid the left alliance stalemate, Maoist Centre leaders say if they fail to reach consensus on power-sharing with the UML, they will be compelled to go for the second alternative—forming new government with the NC and Madhes-based parties in tow. 

Together the NC, Maoist Centre and two Madhes-based parties stand in good stead to secured the magic figure of 138 in the 275-member House of Representatives to form the new government.  On Wednesday, Dahal, however, tried to play down the significance of these engagements, saying: “I have not yet thought about becoming prime minister beyond the left alliance.”

Published: 04-01-2018 07:38

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