KATHMANDU, May 7: With top leaders of CPN-UML failing to convince Central Committee (CC) members, the party´s CC meeting on Sunday in ambiguous terms decided not to join the present government.
Accusing the prime minister of breaching the five-point agreement reached on Thursday midnight, the CC meeting took strong exception to Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai´s decision to bifurcate several ministries and to allocate key portfolios to Madhes-based political leaders.
"This meeting objects to the prime minister´s decision and has decided to hold serious talks with the concerned sides," said a statement issued by the party. The meeting has also accused the prime minister of bypassing the UML while taking the decisions.
However, the statement is completely silent on whether the party will join the government if the prime minister or any other "concerned sides" express readiness to address issues raised by UML.
UML leaders have differing interpretations of the CC decision.
Those who were in favor of joining the government interpreted that the decision meant that the party still can join the coalition if the issues raised by the party are addressed. But those against the party joining the coalition said the party has decided not to join the Baburam Bhattarai-led government.
CC member Bhim Rawal claimed that the party has decision implies that the party would join the present government if concerns raised by the party are addressed. "The committee´s decision is silent on whether or not to join the government but I still believe that the party should join the government," Rawal told Republica.
However, other members refused to buy Rawal´s argument.
Ghanshyam Bhusal said they opted to use ambiguous language in the decision as the party chairman Jhalanath Khanal urged the committee members to not be divided over the issue.
"Though the decision is silent, the meaning between the lines of the decision is definitely not to join the Bhattarai-led government," Bhusal told Republica.
He argued that an overwhelming majority of the party´s all-powerful CC are against joining the present government chiefly on the ground that joining the government would mean endorsing the four-point deal reached between the UCPN (Maoist) and Madhes-based parties.
UML has been denouncing the deal since it was signed. "On top of that, the prime minister´s decision on Saturday has added fuel to the fire and further proved that Baburam Bhattarai is not sincere about accommodating UML in the government," Bhusal explained.
Participants of the meeting said the leadership was compelled to take such a decision even at the cost of backtracking from the pact of which the chairman is a signatory.
Yogesh Bhattarai said the meeting agreed not to bluntly rule out the possibility in writing of the party joining the government at the behest of the party´s top leaders, who signed the five-point deal. According to him, the meeting chose ambiguous wordings as a face-saving strategy for the party´s top leaders, who were involved in the inter-party negotiations.
Khanal, Madhav Kumar Nepal, KP Sharma Oli, Bamdev Gautam and Rawal from the UML were present during the negotiations and at the time of signing the five-point deal.
While a large number of CC members, including party Vice-chair Bidya Bhandari, Bhusal, Bhattarai, Khagraj Adhikari and Raghuji Pant, among others, strongly lobbied against the party joining the coalition, some leaders including Mukunda Neupane, Rawal, Bangshidhar Mishra and Rajendra Pandey were for joining the government and playing a crucial role in constitution writing.
Participants opined that since a majority of the CC members are against joining the government, the UML leadership is most unlikely to take a decision against it. They also argued that the party leaders will not choose to take any risk also because the coalition will be replaced by an NC-led coalition after a few weeks, as per the five-point deal.