KATHMANDU, Dec 23: After failing to take a decision either to give continuity to Baburam Bhattarai´s current government or to support NC President Sushil Koirala as the candidate for new prime minister, the ruling UCPN (Maoist) has entrusted the party´s office-bearers with the responsibility of taking the decision on government leadership.
The eagerly awaited extended meeting of party office-bearers [former standing committee members, bureau in-charges and state committee coordinators] held in Kathmandu on Saturday, also increased the confusion in the Nepali political firmament.
The meeting was called to find a solution following the rift between Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai over the question of whether the current government should quit or not.
Chairman Dahal is for quitting government to break the deadlock and accepting the leadership of NC President Sushil Koirala if the political parties do not support a Maoist candidate, but Bhattarai´s stance is just the opposite.
Following Bhattarai´s opposition, not only has the informal agreement among top leaders of the major political parties in support of Koirala collapsed but the rift between Dahal and Bhattarai has widened.
At the meeting, the Dahal and Narayankazi Shrestha factions voiced strong criticism against the Bhattarai government´s activities, terming them ´anti-nationalist´. The interesting thing is, countering the accusation of the Dahal and Shrestha factions, Bhattarai faction leaders have proposed Dahal as candidate for PM. But the Dahal faction immediately countered that, saying it was just a ´ploy.´
"The main rift between Dahal and Bhattarai is over breaking the deadlock by leaving the government immediately or continuing to sit in government on various pretexts," said a leader close to the Dahal faction, adding that the rift was only for the sake of power.
According to Maoist leaders, the Dahal faction is for yielding a solution immediately but Bhattarai wants to remain in power for long.
The Dahal faction can take any decision if they wish as they are in a majority. But it is very hard for Dahal to take a decision in favor of Koirala. The current government leadership is of his own party and he would take the stigma if he threw out his own party´s government.
Furthermore, the Bhattarai faction could make things very hard for Dahal if he pushes such a proposal. He would be acused of being anti-federalist. Bhattarai faction leaders have been projecting Koirala as anti-constituent assembly and anti-federalism but this is indirectly aimed at Dahal.
"The meeting has decided to entrust the implementation of earlier decisions to party office-bearers," Ninu Chapagain, party cultural department chief who is close to Vice-chairman Narayan Kaji Shrestha, told Republica.
The Dahal and Shrestha factions criticized the Bhattarai government, saying it entered into anti-national agreements with India. Deputy Prime Minster Shrestha himself has criticized the awarding of tenders for Tribhuvan International Airport and Upper Karnali to India. They also criticized the way foreigners meet the leaders without informing the entities concerned. They said the main deadlock is due to the intervention of foreign forces.
"Our party is becoming more defamed by remaining in government. There is no information which foreigner mets whom and what s/he said. The main problems are due to this bad system. We should change the system," a leader quoted Shrestha as saying.
The Dahal and Shrestha factions also accused Bhattarai of trying to just strengthen their faction in the party, ignoring what this will mean for the party´s future.
Interestingly, the Bhattarai faction has proposed Dahal as the candidate for next PM if the parties reject Bhattarai. The Dahal and Shrestha factions said that this proposal is meant to create a rift between Dahal and Shresth. Dahal had proposed Shrestha as the second option after Bhattarai. The Dahal faction countered the Bhattarai faction´s proposal, saying it is a ploy meant just to defame Dahal.
"There is no possibility of us leading the government. It is also no use our party facing such a deadlock. We have no way forward but consensus," said Sonam Sathi, quoting Dahal.
Bhattarai had reiterated his stance, saying the party should not take a decision to hand over the post of PM to NC.
"Why do we give in to the NC? What is the reason? We should find the next alternative within our own party if there is no agreement over me," one leader quoted Bhattarai as saying. The leaders from the Bhattarai faction had claimed that the party should not leave government at any cost.