KATHMANDU, April 19: Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal has disclosed that he is under intense pressure to defer the local-level elections scheduled for May 14.
Prime Minister Dahal said that forces that tried to obstruct the promulgation of the new constitution in September 2015 are exerting similar pressure on him to put off the scheduled elections also.
However, Dahal, who heads the ruling CPN (Maoist Center), vowed to hold the election within the stipulated date despite all such pressure.
“Forces that want either to defer the election or derail it altogether are active of late. But the major political parties and the people at large are ready for the polls. The Election Commission is ready as well. So, the election will not be deferred at any cost,” the prime minister said during a meeting here Tuesday of politburo members of his party from Province-3.
Although he repeatedly mentioned anti-poll forces, Prime Minister Dahal did not name any names.
“It is crystal clear who wants to obstruct the elections. The forces that tried to obstruct the promulgation of the new constitution now want to see the elections derailed,” CPN (Maoist Center) Politburo Member Shalikram Jamkattel quoted the prime minister as saying.
Prime Minister Dahal accused the agitating Madhes-based parties of not being honest about participating in the elections. “I am not very optimistic that the agitating United Democratic Madhesi Front will take part in the election. But elections will not be deferred just because they do not participate,” Jamkattel further quoted the prime minister as saying.
According to Lila Mani Pokharel, another politburo member, Dahal said various forces have tried to break the ruling coalition, creating mistrust among the coalition partners. He further disclosed that he even received an offer to head a consensus government that would hold all three tiers of elections, apparently to foil May 14.
“There were efforts to break up the coalition and create mistrust among the ruling parties in a bid to foil the election scheduled for May 14. But we have successfully overcome these. Unless the UDMF participates in the polls, the May 14 poll date will not be changed. There will not be election in two phases either,” Pokharel quoted Prime Minister Dahal as saying.
Those participating in the meeting said Prime Minister Dahal told the politburo that Home Minister Bimalendra Nidhi himself was not in favor of holding the polls on the stipulated date. He also said that ruling coalition partner Rastriya Prajatantra Party was not strong in its commitment to elections and some within the Nepali Congress (NC) were also trying to foil the election, demanding that polls be held only after bringing the Madhesi parties on board.
Prime Minister Dahal also said that a section of UML leaders are in favor of deferring the elections till mid-November. “UML leader Bam Dev Gautam had proposed postponing the election till mid-November. And the UML would help form a national consensus government under my leadership,” said the prime minister. He had rejected the UML proposal, he further said.
The prime minister said the Madhesi parties had decided not to own the constitution amendment proposal despite the fact that it was introduced in consultation with the top leaders of those parties.
Politburo members speaking at the meeting had said that the UML was panicked by the performance of the Dahal government and the party was not fully involved in the election campaign as yet. They argued that the Maoist Center-led government must hold the polls within the stipulated date as the party’s organizational base had improved significantly.