POST B BASNET/KIRAN PUN
This ends a protracted tussle for power and differences over the party´s tactical line -- at least for now.
But, will Dahal press the Nepali Congress (NC) and the CPN-UML to support his arch rival Bhattarai to become prime minister in a national consensus government?
Party leaders say the success of the peace process hinges on the sincerity of the party chairman in implementing the deal, and they have reason to believe Dahal would not renege on the party decision.
On Monday, Dahal told the CC meeting that Prime Minister Jhalanath Khanal is in a mood to step down but that he (Dahal) told him not to do so until an alternative emerges. "The current government would go by August 31," a leader quoted Dahal as saying at the meeting.
However, there are skeptics in the party who are still not sure Dahal would really implement a deal that would make Bhattarai stronger. "It is like a ceasefire in the faction-ridden party. How things move largely depends on whether the chairman implements the deal," says leader Ganga Shrestha, who is close to Bhattarai.
Party leaders also argue that Dahal has already given his word to Sher Bahadur Deuba of Nepali Congress (NC), who is now busy making preparations to replace Ram Chandra Poudel as the party´s leader in parliament. And also, he may ask Khanal to continue at the helm to effectively check Bhattarai from becoming prime minister.
But Dahal is less likely to take that path as that would lead to stagnation in the peace process and internal dynamics in the party would cost the Maoist chairman dear.
At the CC meeting Monday, the Baidya-Bhattarai alliance submitted to Dahal the signatures of the 74 CC members, which is a majority, in a show of strength after being challenged by leaders from the party establishment. And they argued that they would go to any lengths to force Dahal to implement the deal.
"If he makes any compromises on party ideology to make himself prime minister, the Baidya faction would step forward to check him. And if he deviates from the peace process, Bhattarai would seek the support of Baidya as the latter no longer believes Dahal would support the line of revolt," says a senior party leader.
It is also a positive development for the peace process that the Baidya faction is gradually stepping back from its hard-line stance and has agreed to resolve the contradictions at the general convention. The hardliners have also agreed to send back to the cantonments the PLA personnel in their security detials, something they had so far declined to do, once alternative arrangements are in place.
Party leaders from the establishment faction argue that the rival factions should not doubt Dahal´s sincerity. "The party has already completed the work division. What more can the chairman do to convince other party leaders that he is sincere?" asks party leader Lokendra Bist, who is close to Dahal and has been nominated as minister of health and population.
Some senior party leaders close to Bhattarai seem hopeful that the deal would be implemented. "Otherwise, it would be detrimental to the whole party," says party leader Ram Karki.
Published on 2011-07-26 03:30:15