KATHMANDU, Aug 2: After a third consecutive invitation from the government for talks, the CPN-Maoist has finally decided to sit for talks. The party is now scheduled to hold discussions with constituent parties of the alliance headed by it and then announce exact dates for talks.
The CPN-Maoist readiness for talks has brought about optimism about ending the months-long deadlock. But there are apprehensions whether talks between the government and the alliance led by the CPN-Maoist would really yield any tangible result as neither side has demonstrated enough seriousness.
Overtures by both the government and the CPN-Maoist for talks are widely seen as a formality and an attempt to show that they are not opposed to talks as such, that they want to find a solution through talks.
CPN-Maoist Vice-chairman CP Gajurel told Republica that they are yet to be set out the agenda of the alliance for talks. They will do so after holding a meeting of the alliance. "We are going to a hold meeting of the alliance about talks. The meeting will decide how to present ourselves at the talks," added Gajurel.
The government had sent an invitation letter for a third time on Wednesday, requesting the alliance of dissident political parties to come for talks. In the invitation letter, the government said that any problem in the country could be resolved through talks, dialogue and discussions. The letter addressed to CPN-Maoist Chairman Mohan Baidya does not set any preconditions--something the alliance had opposed outright. Both sides are yet to agree on the date and venue for talks.
Responding to the letter in a statement on Wednesday, CPN-Maoist Spokesperson Pampha Bhusal described the letter as a positive development and said her party was positive about the invitation to talks without any preconditions. The development came a day after the Baidya-led party and alliance decided not to sit for talks with the high level political committee (HLPC), which had repeatedly invited the alliance for negotiations.
However, Kumar Shah, CPN-Maoist central committee member, told Republica, "The government´s invitation and purported talks are just aimed at propaganda. There is no possibility of decisive talks. It is just for public consumption. It will be talks for talks´ sake".
"If the CPN-Maoist sits at the talks table, the major parties [UCPN (Maoist), Nepali Congress, CPN-UML] will bring in conditions to prevent the talks from yielding any results," he added.
The meeting of the alliance on Tuesday had turned down the HLPC´s call for talks, saying the leaders of the four major parties were not serious about addressing their [alliance´s] concerns. The alliance also claimed that the invitation letters from the government and the HLPC were not politically sensible. Earlier, both the government and the HLPC had sent invitation letters with conditions -- the date of the election would not change and the current government would not change. Now finally, the government and the HLPC have sent letters for talks without any preconditions.
"They will just go on inviting us for talks till August 31 just to maintain appearances," added Shah. According to Baidya-led Maoist leaders, the government and the parliamentary parties -- UCPN (Maoist), Nepali Congress and CPN-UML -- plan to engage in propaganda to show people that they want to find a political solution through talks.
"The government will propose to us to recognize the government, and will also propose to expand the cabinet as per our suggestons," said a CPN-Maoist leader. Maoist leaders also said that the government would urge participation in the election, saying the deadline for registering at the Election Commission would be extended. The CPN-Maoist has yet to register with the Election Commission.
CPN-Maoist leaders say their alliance of 33 parties will put forth an agenda to clear the way for the formation of a government of political parties and hand over power to the parties. "The CPN-Maoist and its alliance will say that parties are the backbone of democracy. The current government could not create an environment for elections. It should not make elections a matter of ego since it cannot hold elections," said Biadya Maoist central committee member Shah.
The Maoist leaders say that they will give continuity to the boycott program across the country till August 31, taking action against corrupt leaders. The government also will take action against the Maoist leaders and cadres, registering cases against them. "Till August 31, some leaders will be in jail and cases against our party cadres will increase," added Shah.
According to the Maoist leaders, all sides -- the government, HLPC and the Maoists -- will engage in their respective propaganda. "But talks also would not stop. They will be continued just as a formality."