KATHMANDU, May 24: Giving a new twist yet again to political developments, the second and third-largest ruling coalition partners -- Nepali Congress (NC) and CPN-UML-- have increased pressure on the prime minister to step down and pave the way for the formation of a new consensus government immediately.
A Standing Committee meeting of the CPN-UML at its parliamentary party office at Singha Durbar on Wednesday took a two-point decision.
"The prime minister must step down immediately and pave the way for the formation of a national consensus government as per the five-point deal reached among the major political forces," reads the statement issued by party Secretary Yubraj Gyawali after the meeting. The major political parties had signed a five-point deal on the peace process, constitution writing and formation of a new national unity government earlier this month.
Also, the parties decided to work continuously for completing the constitution writing process by May 27.
According to another party secretary, Shankar Pokharel, the UML meeting drew the conclusion that it was still possible to promulgate a new constitution by May 27 if the parties worked together.
Asked if it was not a joke to claim that the parties could form the new government and also promulgate the new constitution in the next three days, Pokharel claimed that it was not "impossible".
DPM says PM should resignation
Meanwhile, NC and CPN-UML leaders, at a meeting of the three big parties and United Madhes Democratic Front (UDMF) at the prime minister´s office on Wednesday, insisted that the prime minister should step down without further delay.
Deputy Prime Minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula, who leads the Nepali Congress team in the Bhattarai cabinet, said while emerging from the meeting that there was no alternative before the prime minister but to step down and pave the way for a national consensus government under the NC´s leadership because that was already agreed in the five-point deal. "In the deal, we had agreed to form a consensus government under the NC´s leadership before the promulgation of a new constitution by May 27," he said.
Sitaula, who signed the government bill to amend the Interim Constitution seeking the CA term extension, said the bill was wrong. "I know I signed it but it was wrong," he said, adding that the CA term could not be continued beyond May 27.
Sitaula claimed that the major task of constitution writing could be completed in the next two days once the leaders settled a few remaining unresolved issues. "No one will raise any questions over our capability and the legitimacy of extending the CA term for some days if we resolve the thorny issues beforehand," he claimed.
Ex-PM Nepal for CA term extension by one month
CPN-UML leader and former prime minister Madhav Kumar Nepal has said that the CA term can be extended only for a month at most and not for three months as proposed by the government in the bill registered at the parliament secretariat Tuesday.
He said seeking an extension of three months would be in contravention of the Supreme Court verdict that said the latest extension was to be the final one.
Asked what substantial difference there was between extending the CA for some weeks and for some months, he claimed that there was a difference. He said if the parties resolved the remaining thorny issues and sealed the final deal in writing beforehand and then sought just a few more weeks for preparing the document and endorsing the final draft via due procedures, there would be strong grounds for seeking yet another extension.
He argued that the meaning point between the lines of the apex court verdict was to ensure that the CA would promulgate the new constitution on time. "The court´s concern is that the CA should not be extended for an indefinite time without ensuring it would promulgate a new constitution," added Nepal. "Therefore, seeking extension for a limited amount of time that is essential for writing and for the procedural tasks will be justified and will not be in contempt of court."
He demanded that the prime minister resign within the next two days to pave the way for formation of a national consensus government that will create the ground for promulgating the new constitution.
"The prime minister must resign because he has lost the trust of other parties; he needs to step down to create an atmosphere for building trust among the major political forces that in turn will help create grounds for consensus building and promulgating the new constitution," he explained.