KATHMANDU, Oct 19: In an apparent bid to exert pressure on the Nepali Congress and CPN-UML to go for revival of the Constituent Assembly (CA) and discourage any new overtures for consensus by President Dr Ram Baran Yadav, the UCPN (Maoist) on Thursday proposed holding elections for a new president along with a fresh CA poll.
During a meeting with Nepali Congress (NC) President Sushil Koirala at the latter´s residence at Maharajgunj, Thursday morning, Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal proposed amending the Interim Constitution to hold a fresh election for the head of state.
Dahal offered NC the leadership of a new government only if it agreed to the revival of the dissolved CA.
Dahal´s proposal to hold the election along with a CA poll comes in the wake of President Dr Ram Baran Yadav publicly criticizing the political parties for failing to reach any consensus. Recently, the president came down hard on the Bhattarai-led government´s decision to announce fresh polls without bringing about necessary amendments to the Interim Constitution.
Sources close to Maoist Chairman Dahal said the Maoists wanted election of the president also as the opposition parties were trying to incite a constitutional president to make ´unconstitutional´ moves.
"The opposition parties have always provoked the president to play an executive role. If elections are to be held, then why not go for polls for a new president as well as a new parliament," a Maoist source quoted Dahal as saying at the meeting.
Dahal, who was flanked by Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai, also said the Bhattarai-led government would be holding the polls if the NC was not ready for CA revival.
"But we are ready to accept the NC´s leadership of the new government if there is an agreement to revive the CA with an understanding to leave the contentious issues in the annex," the source further quoted Dahal as saying.
NC sources said Koirala, who was accompanied by NC General Secretary Krishna Sitaula, rejected the proposal outright. Koirala argued that the parties should forge a new consensus including on the formation of a national consensus government to go for fresh CA polls.
Talking to media persons after the meeting, Maoist Chairman Dahal reiterated that there was no alternative for ending the current crisis than forging a consensus for which the political parties have to resolve the contentious issues in the new constitution and then promulgate the statute.
"NC´s leadership will be acceptable to us if they agree to hold elections only after promulgating the new constitution," he said, adding that the present government should continue if the NC and UML want to go for elections without promulgating a new statute.
NC General Secretary Krishna Prasad Sitaula told media that the NC had reiterated its position that fresh polls were the only option for ending the current political impasse. "Only a national consensus government can hold the polls and for that Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai should step down and pave the way for the formation of such a government," he added.
NC leaders have taken Dahal´s latest proposal as a tactic for prolonging Bhattarai in power, while discouraging President Yadav from taking any step to end the deadlock. "This is nothing but another tactic of the Maoists to prolong their stay in power. Dahal has been changing his proposal for consensus. This new proposal has pushed consensus further away," said NC CWC member Badri Pandey.
Earlier on Wednesday, CPN-UML Chairman Jhala Nath Khanal had accused Maoist Chairman Dahal of prolonging the political deadlock through flip-flops in his stance between holding fresh elections and reviving the dissolved CA. He said Dahal was creating confusion and adding uncertainty to the political discourse by floating one proposal after another within the span of a few weeks.
Dahal´s flip-flops since CA dissolution on May 27
May-end to June-end: CA election as only option for resolving deadlock
July-August: Dahal roots for CA revival while other Maoist leaders including PM Bhattarai say fresh CA election the only option
Mid-September: Fresh CA election only way to resolve deadlock
October first week: Dahal proposes to go for CA revival, even asks NC and UML CA members to lobby for revival
October third week: Dahal proposes that CA poll should be held along with election of the president.