KATHMANDU, June 9: The 22 opposition parties including Nepali Congress (NC) and CPN-UML Friday launched an agitation protesting the government´s "unilateral move" to announce fresh Constituent Assembly (CA) polls.
The opposition parties claimed their agitation will end only after unseating Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai for allegedly pushing the country into political as well constitutional crisis by dissolving the CA without promulgating new constitution.
The agitating 22 parties formed an alliance called the National Democratic Campaign vowing to topple the present coalition to form a national unity government, fight against the UCPN (Maoist) party´s ploy to capture state powers and foil the former rebel party´s plan to impose its autocracy in the country.
Addressing the mass gathering, leaders from all the 22 political parties came down heavily on the prime minister and the UCPN (Maoist) party chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal allegedly for their unilateral move to dissolve the CA and announce fresh polls for November. Most of those addressing the gathering claimed that the Maoist leaders, backed by the ruling Madhesi parties, took the decision with a ploy to capture the state powers but not conduct the polls.
They demanded that the prime minister step down without any delay. "The prime minister should have tendered his resignation before the president immediately after he decided to announce the CA polls. But he didn´t do so," NC President Sushil Koirala announced in the gathering.
Claiming that the Maoists intent was to impose their party-controlled system in the country. "The Maoists´ intent to impose totalitarian system has been exposed many a time in the past as well. This is the latest in a series of such cases," said Koirala. He said the NC wouldn´t be deter by the Maoist tactics and conspiracies and wouldn´t make any compromise on the fundamental democratic principles.
UML Chairman Jhalanath Khanal urged Bhattarai to immediately step down and pave the way for formation of consensus government. "The consensus can be forged immediately after Bhattarai steps down because this agitation is not intended to isolate any single force," he said.
He said that the announcement of CA polls needed to be scrapped arguing that the Maoists and Madhesi parties didn´t announce the date with good intentions.
Describing the Madhesi and Maoist parties as seasonal forces that would mushroom overnight and disappear in no time, Khanal claimed that the seasoned democratic forces such as UML and NC weren´t afraid of facing the polls. He argued that they protested against the government´s decision to go for fresh polls as it was unilateral and unconstitutional move.
UML leader and former Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal blamed the Maoists for the failure to promulgate the new constitution from CA. He said the non-Maoist parties were compelled to spend most of the time in the last four years to fight the Maoist conspiracy to capture state power and their ploy to impose undemocratic constitution.
He said once the national consensus government is formed they can discuss various options such as fresh polls, referendum on major issues, entrusting a commission with the responsibility of completing the remaining task, reinstatement of CA for a brief period or holding a round table conference among the major political parties and other stakeholders to seek a political way out.
Most of the leaders accused the prime minister and the UCPN (Maoist) party of announcing polls despite reaching understanding on most of the thorny issues in constitution writing and the drafting tasks almost completed.
"At the last moment, I also proposed to give the CA a new lease of life by declaring state of emergency only for four to five days but the Maoists didn´t agree on that as well," said NC leader and former Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba.
NC leader Ram Chandra Paudel, UML leader KP Sharma Oli, Rastriya Prajatantra Party Chairman Pashupati Shamsher Rana and former Prime Minister Surya Bahadur Thapa said the Maoist brought the CA to its unceremonious end in a planned way because they never wanted to frame a constitution but to incite unrest and ethnic conflict so as to create a ground for an autocratic system.
Participants boo Madhesi leader
As Devendra Mishra of Nepal Sadbhavana Party (Anandidevi) began addressing the masses in Hindi language, the participants booed him. NC leader Ram Chandra Paudel had to intervene when the participants didn´t stop shouting slogans against Mishra. "Let him speak in whatever language he likes. It is his right," Paudel urged the demonstrators. Mishra then used Hindi throughout his speech. Later, impressed by his arguments, Mishra was applauded by the same demonstrators.
Cadres set-up party flags at Khullamanch.(Photo: Bijay Rai)