KATHMANDU, Sept 21: Even as the major political parties have finally agreed to go for elections for a new Constituent Assembly (CA), a fresh tussle has begun among them over who should lead the new government that will hold the elections by next April.
If the positions of the two major parties, UCPN (Maoist) and Nepali Congress (NC), are anything to go by, it will likely take a ´considerably long time´ to arrive at a consensus on the leadership of the new government.
All the major parties including Maoists, NC, CPN-UML and Madhes-based parties ´agree in principle´ to form a new national consensus government. But as the ruling Maoist and Madhes-based parties are now averse to the idea of NC leadership of a new government as per the five-point deal reached before the dissolution of the CA on May 27, the parties are at odds over the leadership of a new national consensus government.
“If things had gone according to the five-point deal, the NC would have naturally taken leadership of the new government. But since that did not happen, the leadership should be settled through discussions,” said Maoist Spokesperson Agni Sapkota, adding that the UCPN (Maoist) also has a claim over government leadership.
As per the five-point deal, the Maoists, NC, UML and United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) had reached an understanding to give NC the leadership of the government once all the contentious issues of the new statute were resolved. The opposition parties have been maintaining that the current Maoist-led government must first step down if there is to be any consensus.
All major parties have made an informal understanding to hold the poll by April, 2013.
NC leader Dr Ram Sharan Mahat argued that since there was already an understanding to give NC the leadership of a new government no one should make this an issue.
“There was an understanding on the leadership of the new government. I do not have anything to say if the Maoists backtrack,” said Mahat, who was speaking at an interaction organized by Reporters´ Club, Nepal.
Dr Mahat said that there must be a NC-led government in place to hold the fresh poll. “I am confident there will be a NC-led government for the poll,” he said while arguing that it would be natural for NC to claim leadership of the new government as it has not led any government formed after the CA election held in April, 2008.
However, Chairman of Sadbhawana Party (SP) Rajendra Mahato, while stating that they can not support a government led by the NC for holding elections, also argued that a new government should be led by a non-political figure if there was no consensus among parties on its leadership.
“We do not have any sympathy for the NC regarding the new government as it did not want to promulgate a new statue with federalism,” he added.
Similarly, the UML, though it earlier rooted for a NC-led government to hold fresh elections, appears lately to be changing its stance, saying the party garnering support from other political parties should lead a new government.
“Though the UML is open to leadership by the NC, a new government should be led by the party that can ensure participation in it of all major parties, including Maoists,” said UML leader Bhim Rawal.
Party leaders said talks among the parties scheduled for Friday afternoon will dwell mainly on the formation of a new national consensus government and the leadership of such a government.
The meeting is also scheduled to hold discussions on the date for fresh elections, the number of constituencies and the process of resolving constitutional difficulties before going to the polls.