KATHMANDU, Nov 23: The rumor that spread like wildfire all day on Thursday that Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai was resigning was true till noon, but he later changed his mind under pressure from the Madhesi parties in the coalition government.
Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai proposed at a meeting of the Federal Democratic Republican Alliance (FDRA) that he would resign his position to pave the way for national consensus, a minister said, requesting not to be named. The meeting was held at the prime minister´s residence at Baluwatar.
"He had made up his mind to step down in a bid to forge national consensus among the political parties, but later changed his stance following strong pressure from other coalition partners," the minister told Republica.
Following the resignation proposal from the prime minister, UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal suggested instead that he quit within the next 15 days.
However, senior leaders of the ruling Madhes-based political parties took strong exception to the proposals of both Bhattarai and Dahal, stating that there was no need to step down as the government has already in a caretaker capacity.
"Why set a deadline for the resignation of a caretaker government? It is better to mention that the government will step down ´at the earliest´ once the political parties arrive at consensus on all issues," a minister quoted Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Bijay Kumar Gachchhadar, who is also chairman of the Madhesi People´s Rights Forum-Democratic (MPRF-D), as saying at the FDRA meeting.
According to another minister, also speaking on condition of anonymity, the leaders argued that there would be a power imbalance if the present government resigned.
"There are only two elected institutions in the country: the president and the government," the minister quoted Madhesi leaders as saying. "If the government steps down, the entire power will be with the president and this will create imbalance in the country."
Following strong objection from partners, the coalition concluded the meeting directing the government to appeal to all political parties to come together for national consensus in order to end the current political and constitutional deadlock.
The coalition also entrusted the UCPN(Maoist) chairman with the task of holding serious dialogue with the political parties for consensus, according to Prem Bahadur Singh, spokesperson of FDRA.