KATHMANDU, Dec 20: As several rounds of talks and repeated attempts to convince Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai to quit office yielded no result, top leaders of the major political parties at last have decided to take an alternative political course for nomination of the new prime minister.
They decided to suggest to the president to appoint prime minister on the recommendation of the major political parties if the prime minister doesn´t agree on the political understanding reached among the major parties.
Chiefs of UCPN (Maoist), Nepali Congress (NC) and CPN-UML, along with other key leaders, reached this conclusion after rounds of interparty negotiations held at separate places on Wednesday.
Leaders had earlier this week decided to sign a package deal with regard to forming a new government, amending election-related laws and constitutional provisions and fixing the date for fresh Constituent Assembly (CA) election and to suggest to the president, through the government, nomination of a common candidate as prime minister.
CARTOON BY RAJESH KC
While an alliance of opposition parties, including Nepali Congress and CPN-UML, has proposed NC President Sushil Koirala as their common candidate, lately the ruling UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal is also positive about the proposal though Bhattarai is against it.
Leaders said they would still try to bring the prime minister into confidence as they want to recommend the prime ministerial candidate to the president through the government.
NC General Secretary Krishna Sitaula, who is closely involved in the interparty negotiations, said that they had to devise an alternative plan as the prime minister backtracked from the understanding reached among the leaders earlier. According to Sitaula, until two days ago, also the prime minister was ready to move ahead as per the political understanding. “But all of a sudden he backtracked from the understanding leaving us awestruck,” said Sitaula. Stating that the the ball now is in the prime minister´s court, he urged Bhattarai not to turn his back on the earlier agreement.
“It is in Bhattaraiji´s interest to support top leaders forward the proposal to the president,” he explained.
According to leaders privy to the development, UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Dahal has agreed to move ahead as per the alternative plan of the political parties directly recommending the president to nominate prime minister as per the Article 38 (1) of the Interim Constitution. The provision allows the head of state to appoint a common candidate suggested by the major political forces as the prime minister.
“I will talk to the prime minister. I still hope that he would agree to move ahead through consensus,” a leader quoted Dahal as saying. The leaders will directly recommend the president to nominate their candidate for the prime ministerial post only if Dahal failed to convince Bhattarai to forward the political parties´ proposal through the government.
The leaders´ priority is to bring Bhattarai on board and forward the proposal through the government because this will put the president in a safe-side.
But a leader argued that the president will have no legal complications in appointing the prime minister recommended by the political parties because the present government only has a caretaker status.
After rounds of separate talks, UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Dahal, NC President Koirala and CPN-UML Chairman Jhalanath Khanal called on President Ram Baran Yadav at the president´s office in Shital Niwas on Wednesday evening.
The leaders´ initiatives came a day after the president for the fourth time extended the deadline given to the political parties to find a common candidate for the prime ministerial post.