KATHMANDU, Nov 11: With nearly five months long negotiations yielding no result, 15 opposition parties Saturday announced a month-long protests aimed at ousting the present government and creating ground for fresh elections in April next year.
Top leaders from Nepali Congress (NC) and CPN-UML, among others, jointly vowed to launch massive protests claiming the agitation would stop only after unseating the present government and paving the way for formation of a election government commanding broader political consensus.
Leaders from the major agitating parties also made it clear that they wouldn´t close the doors for talks as well.
NC President Sushil Koirala said they would adopt three-pronged struggle against the present ruling coalition. "Firstly, we have raised questions over this government´s legitimacy on constitutional grounds and have already requested the president in writing to stop the coalition´s move to issue budget ordinance," Koirala said at the press meet organized at CPN-UML head office in Balkhu on Saturday.
Secondly, the opposition alliance plans to garner public support in national as well as international levels in ousting the government. "Thirdly, we are always for seeking solution through negotiations because we believe in dialogue, cooperation and reconciliation."
The leaders claimed that they wouldn´t stop protests without taking the political course to a logical conclusion.
"Once the agitation takes off, it will be concluded only after attaining its goal, which is to topple this government, and form new election government," said CPN-UML Chairman Jhalanath Khanal.
NC Vice-president Ram Chandra Paudel claimed that more political parties are going to join the agitation and the protests will spread across the country like a wildfire.
Paudel said that they opted to go for agitation after four years long negotiations in the name of consensus led the country nowhere. "Now we want to lead the politics in a decisive direction," he said.
The opposition parties have set five objectives of the agitation. The first is to hold elections for CA-cum-parliament in coming April-May ensuring to promulgate a new constitution.
"The second is to form a new government through consensus to conduct free and fair election by removing the Baburam Bhattarai-led government," it said.
The third and fourth objectives are to bring annual budget and to appoint heads and members in the constitutional bodies.
"To promote independence and autonomy of judiciary and constitutional bodies," read the fifth objective.
Though 19 political parties were recently holding talks on launching joint protests, only 15 parties were present at the announcement function. Mohan Baidya-led CPN-Maoist and Rastriya Janamorcha and two others were absent.
Khanal and Paudel claimed that the other parties would join the agitation shortly after they settle some minor differences on the issues and nature of protests.
"Differences with Baidya-led Maoist party"
CPN-Maoist Secretary Dev Gurung said they would join the agitations only after making clear their differences with the other parties over some issues although they too believe that the government needs to be toppled.
"We want to categorically announce that this government has committed some anti-national and unequal treaties with other countries and we are for protesting against this as well while other parties are not as categorical about this," Gurung told Republica. "We will join the agitating alliance once we make our points clear."
Will the opposition be able to impress the public?
While division among the opposition parties is a challenge before the agitating leaders, also attracting the general public toward their protests is going to be equally taxing.
Many doubt in the protest gathering momentum as an alliance of 27 opposition parties led by NC and UML in June had declared protests against the government´s for allegedly pushing the country into political as well constitutional crisis by dissolving the CA without promulgating new constitution but it bore no fruit.
Professor Chaitanya Mishra hailed opposition parties´ decision to protest demanding fresh elections and an election-government saying that dialogues, protests and elections are beauty of a democratic society.
"Holding election has become imperative and a new government is essential for that," Mishra told Republica. But he believed that the protests will impress non-political mass only if they announce to form an election-government under a leader who is non-aligned with any political party.
"Any proposal to form election-government led by an independent and bold person like former Chief Justice Ram Prasad Shrestha will only impress the public," he explained.