Just another ploy to cling to power and keep postponing polls suspected
KATHMANDU, Jan 4: In what could be yet another flipflop in his party´s stance, UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal on Thursday suggested to President Ram Baran Yadav to pick an independent leader as a common prime ministerial candidate.
Dahal, who reached the president´s office after making a similar proposal before CPN-UML leaders earlier in the day, said to the president that a civil society leader with a political background could be made the new prime minister since there was no consensus candidate among the parties.
Talking to Republica, the president´s press advisor Rajendra Dahal said the president asked Dahal to forge consensus at the earliest as time was running out for making necessary preparations for fresh polls by mid-May. “Time is running out for fresh elections. You can continue with other politicking. But do help forge agreement among parties at the earliest to create a conducive environment for fresh polls,” Dahal quoted President Yadav as saying.
Dahal reached the president´s office to offer a new suggestion to the head of state just a day before the president´s sixth deadline for finding a consensus prime ministerial candidate expires Friday.
The opposition parties have taken Dahal´s support for the idea of an independent candidate as meaningful as this development comes after his hurriedly-arranged ´medical´ trip to Thailand. Earlier, Dahal had expressed flexibility over the opposition alliance´s decision to propose Nepali Congress (NC) President Sushil Koirala as its common candidate.
Earlier in the day, Dahal floated the same proposal at a two-party meeting with CPN-UML leaders.
Dahal, who was accompanied by Amik Sherchan, another UCPN (Maoist) leader, floated the proposal before the UML leaders during the two-party talks held Thursday. Party Chairman Jhalanath Khanal and senior leader Madhav Kumar Nepal joined the talks from the UML side.
Sherchan said they proposed an independent candidate from outside both the ruling and opposition parties as the stand-off between the ruling and opposition alliances had dragged on for months. "We floated the proposal to find an independent candidate who can be consensual for both sides, because the parties have failed to agree on any leader from a political party," Sherchan told reporters after the meeting at Babarmahal.
But participating leaders said they just discussed the matter without reaching any conclusion.
Khanal said they simply listened to the Maoist proposal but didn´t reach any conclusion, adding that it was just one of many proposals floated in recent days.
The ruling Maoist party leaders tried to persuade opposition UML leaders even though a two-party meeting between the Nepali Congress (NC) and UML on Wednesday had rejected the Maoist proposal outright. Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai had proposed the idea before former prime minister Nepal on Wednesday morning and the latter subsequently briefed the NC-UML meeting about the proposal.
Meanwhile, top UML leaders at the party´s standing committee meeting that took place just ahead of the Maoist-UML meeting Thursday, concluded that the Maoist proposal was simply unacceptable.
"A independent person can´t properly manage the current transitional period and that is why we have to appoint a political person who can successfully lead the country in such a crisis," UML Secretary Shankar Pokharel told Republica about the conclusion of the standing committee meeting. He described the Maoist proposal as nothing more than a tactic to create further confusion among opposition parties.
He claimed that the Maoists did not come up with the new idea with sincerity and they would reject any other alternative the other parties came up with. "It is the UCPN (Maoist) party and its chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal who had pledged that the deadlock would end once the NC announced its candidate," said Pokharel. "But it is the same party and the same leader that have rejected Koirala´s candidacy."
He said the Maoist proposal was just a deliberate move to cling on to power and not hold elections in the coming spring.
Prez should nominate PM
About ending the current deadlock and forming a new government, Pokharel argued that President Yadav has to take a fresh approach and end the ongoing process of issuing fresh deadlines for the political parties to seek a consensus prime ministerial candidate.
He argued that the better option available to the president is to hold discussions among leaders from all the political parties represented in the dissolved Constituent Assembly and appoint a leader who garners support from a majority of parties as the prime minister of an election government.
"This is the right way to end the deadlock and lead the country toward elections," said Pokharel.
He also claimed that there was no point giving further continuity to the ongoing process of the president extending deadlines for the political parties as that process was not going to yield any result.