KATHMANDU, Nov 27: Amid demand from both the ruling and opposition parties to name the party´s prime ministerial candidate for forming a national consensus government, Nepali Congress (NC) President Sushil Koirala has started holding ´quiet´ negotiations with the top leaders of various political parties, mainly with the allies of the ruling Federal Democratic Republican Alliance (FDRA).
On Monday, Koirala held separate meetings with Tarai-Madhes Democratic Party (TMDP) Chairman Mahantha Thakur, Federal Sadbhbhwana Party Chairman Anil Jha and Sadbhawana Party Chairman Rajendra Mahato apparently to solicit their support for his candidacy for the next prime minister.
The Madhesi leaders had expressed readiness to support NC´s candidate for prime minister provided that the the party stood ready to ´address the issues concerning Madhes´, said sources close to Koirala.
Koirala is scheduled to meet Madhesi People´s Rights Forum (Democratic) Chairman Bijaya Kumar Gachchhadar and other leaders Tuesday.
Party insiders say though Koirala is yet to publicly express his desire to become prime minister, he has made up his mind to propose himself for the post provided it is reasonably certain that the NC will lead the new government, which will hold CA elections. "He is now assessing whether he could win support, mainly from those in the ruling alliance," said a Central Working Committee (CWC) member close to Koirala.
Koirala expedited parleys with the top leaders of various parties to solicit support in his favor as senior leader Sher Bahadur Deuba has been publicly saying that he does not want to be prime minister now. On Monday afternoon, Koirala had reached Deuba residence at Budhanilakantha to solicit his support.
Deuba reportedly told Koirala that he was ready to step aside from the race should Koirala agreed to settle the power-sharing row that exists in the party for long and also offered him acting presidency of the party.
Koirala´s move, however, has drawn strong resentment from Vice President Ram Chandra Paudel, who has long been eying the prime ministerial berth. While expressing dissatisfaction over Koirala´s recent overtures, Paudel has also ´quietly´ expedited lobbying both within and outside the party.
Sources said Paudel held a meeting with CPN-Maoist Vice Chairman C P Gajurel on Sunday. What transpired at the meeting remains unknown. Paudel had also held meeting with Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai on the same day.
Leaders close to Deuba said Paudel has been repeatedly asking them to help him win Deuba´s support for making it to the prime ministerial berth. "Though unable to put his case clearly before President Koirala, Paudel appears very desperate and at times miffed with the party president," said a leader close to Deuba.
Paudel, who was made to contest voting in the then parliament for 17 futile times, has been privately sharing with his close confidantes that Koirala was trying to put him in ´injustice´ by not supporting his candidacy.
Deputy Prime Minister Bijaya Kumar Gachchhadar held an over an hour-long meeting with CPN-UML leader K P Oli at the latter´s residence in Balkot, Bhaktapur Monday. The meeting had dwelt mainly on the latest political development and formation of new national consensus government, sources said.