NC-Maoist bonhomie fading?

August 29, 2017 07:18 AM Republica

KATHMANDU, August 29: The ruling Nepali Congress (NC) and its key ally in government, the CPN (Maoist Center), are said to be on the same page on a number of issues, including constitution amendment. This is said to have brought the Maoist Center closer to the NC, severing its ties with the main opposition party, the CPN-UML in August, 2016. 

But if the remarks made by Maoist Center Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal and other senior leaders in recent days are taken into account, the two parties already seem to have developed fissures. The differences between the two parties have surfaced on the ground on issues relating to the prime minister’s remarks on constitution amendment during his recent India visit and other agreements signed including Koshi High Dam.

Although NC President and Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba have defended his remarks saying that he has not compromised Nepal’s national interests, Maoist Center Chairman Dahal has expressed dissatisfaction with Deuba over his remarks. 

Dahal has been using various public functions of the party to express his dissatisfaction. Addressing the party’s Province 6 orientation program held in Surkhet on Friday and a news conference organized by the party in Biratnagar on Monday, Chairman Dahal criticized Prime Minister Deuba.

While Prime Minister Deuba assured India that the ruling parties will introduce a fresh amendment bill in parliament, Maoist Center Chairman Dahal termed the remarks unwarranted. Dahal even dismissed the possibility of introducing a fresh amendment bill in the near future. “The issue of constitution amendment is Nepal’s internal affair. There is no need to talk about this with others,” said Dahal in Surkhet on Friday. 

The Maoist Center is also not happy with the mentioning of Koshi High Dam in the Joint Press Statement issued after the conclusion of bilateral meetings held in New Delhi. “I saw the joint press statement only today. But there was no need to mention that [Koshi High Dam]. We will discuss this with the prime minister and others after we return to Kathmandu,” Dahal told media persons in Biratnagar on Monday. 

Although there is no political consensus back in Nepal on the Koshi High Dam and Sun Koshi storage cum diversion projects proposed by India, the Joint Press Statement states that the two prime ministers had agreed to expedite the preparation of the Detailed Project Report for the Sapt-Koshi high dam and Sun-Koshi storage cum diversion project. There is a strong opinion in Nepal that these projects should not be expedited.

Otherwise ‘soft’ towards India since last year, Dahal on Monday rapped India for establishing an Indian camp in Biratnagar without permission from the Nepali authorities. Dahal said that his party has been consistently maintaining that India should remove the camp. 

The Maoist Center holds various nine ministerial berths in Deuba’s Cabinet under the leadership of Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara. DPM Minister Mahara did not go to the Tribhuvan International Airport to receive Prime Minister Deuba when the latter returned home from his India visit on Sunday evening. Although Mahara’s personal secretariat ascribed it to his illness, Mahara’s absence at TIA has been linked to the growing differences between the Maoist Center and the NC.

Asked if they had already reached a point of severing ties with the NC, senior Maoist Center leader Narayan Kaji Shrestha said they have not reached ‘that far’ yet. “Of course, we have some differences and dissatisfactions with the prime minister. We plan to talk to Prime Minister Deuba on these differences once we reach Kathmandu,” said Shrestha over the telephone from Biratnagar.

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