KATHMANDU, March 5: Talks for forming a coalition between the left alliance and the Federal Socialist Forum Nepal (FSFN) ended inconclusively on Monday after leaders from the two sides failed to agree on the details of power sharing.
Despite consensus on the issue of constitution amendment, leaders from the two sides are still at odds over the division of power in the new government and constitutional bodies.
During a meeting with UML Chairman and Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and CPN (Maoist Center) chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal at the prime minister's residence in Baluwatar on Monday afternoon, FSFN Chairman Upendra Yadav remained firm on his party's demand for three ministries including a deputy prime ministerial portfolio and post of deputy speaker in the federal parliament.
Oli and Dahal had shown readiness to address FSFN's demand for three ministries but declined to give the party the post of deputy prime minister. Oli has ruled out the possibility of creating a Deputy Prime Ministerial Portfolio in the new cabinet, while he appears positive about giving the post of deputy speaker to the Madhes-based party.
The meeting ended with an understanding to hold another round of discussion after Yadav sought some time to discuss the matter with his party leaders, according to FSFN leaders briefed on the meeting. UML leader Subas Nembang said that an agreement was likely in the next meeting expected to take place on Wednesday.
After the meeting, FSFN Chair Yadav has summoned all party leaders for an emergency meeting on Tuesday to discuss the issue of joining the government. FSFN leaders said that Yadav is in the mood to take a decision after consultation with the party leaders.
Notwithstanding the existing differences, leaders from both sides are positive about an agreement due to the soft stance taken by UML on the issue of constitution amendment.
FSFN, the fifth largest party in parliament, has put forth the revision of statute as a precondition to join the government.
One of the main FSFN demands includes a revision of Article 274 of the constitution in such a way that would make it easier to redraw federal boundaries in the future. The party has also stressed the need for a federal commission to resolve all disputes pertaining to federal boundaries.
FSFN leaders said the two sides are also close to agreeing on the issue of power sharing. UML and Maoists appear ready to fulfill FSFN's demand for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Health, while the name of another ministry is yet to be ascertained.
Despite having a comfortable majority in parliament, the UML and Maoist Center are eager to bring FSFN on board the government as the participation of the Madhes-based party would guarantee a two-thirds majority in parliament.
Having FSFN in the coalition will also provide chances to run the government with relative political stability and mend ties with Madhesi constituents who remain skeptical of the alliance due to its stance on constitution amendment.