KATHMANDU, Nov 20: A meeting of top leaders of the UCPN (Maoist), Nepali Congress and CPN-UML held on Monday evening to forge consensus on the budget and fresh elections ended inconclusively after the ruling Maoists refused outright to quit the government.
NC President Sushil Koirala and UML Chairman Jhala Nath Khanal had reiterated their stance with Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal that consensus on these issues of contention could be possible only if Baburam Bhattarai agreed to step down as prime minister.
At the meeting held at Koirala´s residence at Maharajgunj, UML Chairman Khanal had proposed that the three parties could jointly ask President Dr Ram Baran Yadav to make a ´constitutional move´ to resolve the ongoing political deadlock if Bhattarai stood ready to pave the way for a national consensus government.
According to sources, Dahal, however, said they were not in favor of quitting the government unless there was a ´credible´ alternative at hand.
Talking to media persons after the meeting, UML Chairman Khanal said they held discussions on all issues of contention among the parties, but without reaching any consensus. “There must be fresh elections by mid-May. But for that to happen, a new government must be formed through political consensus,” he said, adding, “Discussions are underway to arrive at consensus on the issues.”
During the meeting, Koirala said that the NC was in favor of a package deal on all issues while Maoist Chairman Dahal proposed to arrive at a consensus on the budget issue first. Koirala argued that a piecemeal deal would not help resolve the deadlock.
Speaking briefly to media, Koirala said the meeting focused on arriving at a consensus on all issues in view of the urgency shown by President Yadav. “The president is concerned over the situation. Even just now we held discussions on ways to arrive at a consensus. The country will witness disaster if we fail to reach consensus [sometime soon],” he said.
Earlier in the afternoon, NC office-bearers held a meeting to forge the party´s stance on resolving the deadlock. The meeting reiterated that there must be a package deal on all the issues and Prime Minister Bhattarai must step down without further delay. The three major parties have decided to hold meetings on Tuesday also, according to Koirala.
The parties expedited their talks amid pressure from President Yadav to reach consensus at the earliest.