KATHMANDU, Dec 9: In yet another blow to the opposition alliance, ruling UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal on Saturday proposed finding a consensus prime ministerial candidate from outside the Nepali Congress (NC) to head the new government.
Dahal floated the proposal during his meeting with CPN-UML leader Madhav Kumar Nepal and Nepali Congress (NC) General Secretary Krishna Sitaula at UML leader Krishna Lal Maharjan´s residence in Lalitpur.
While NC and other opposition parties, including the CPN-UML wanted to finalize NC President Sushil Koirala as a consensus candidate, Dahal not only rejected Koirala but also urged the two leaders to find an alternative candidate from outside the NC.
"At today´s [Saturday] meeting Prachandaji [Dahal] floated a new proposal and sought another candidate´s name from outside the NC," a leader knowledgeable about the meeting told Republica.
According to the leader, Dahal had argued at the meeting that it was time to think about a new candidate as both the UCPN (Maoist) and NC are against accepting each other´s candidates.
"Since NC is against our [Maoist] leadership and we are not ready to accept NC candidate, we now need to seek a candidate from a third party without wasting further time," the source quoted Dahal as saying at the meeting.
Another leader privy to the talks said Dahal hinted at picking a leader from the Madhes-based parties but another leader close to Nepal said Dahal didn´t pronounce any name during the discussion.
"The talks were not positive and didn´t yield any result rather Dahalji proposed finding a new candidate," Maharjan told Republica.
Leaders from NC and CPN-UML have termed Dahal´s move “ "betray”l" as the Maoist chairman had earlier pressed NC leaders to decide the party´s official candidate and float the name during inter-party negotiations. But as the NC´s Central Working Committee unanimously proposed Koirala as the party´s official candidate on Wednesday, the UCPN (Maoist) and other ruling parties decided not to accept NC candidate without first signing a package deal.
The ruling parties have insisted that NC and other parties accept their proposals on thorny disputes in constitution writing, including the disagreements in the proposed federal models, prior to accepting Koirala as the new prime minister.
At the meeting former Prime Minister Nepal and Sitaula sought reasons for the UCPN (Maoist)´s rejection of the NC president as the prime ministerial candidate even as Dahal himself had earlier pressed NC to come up with the party´s official candidate. Dahal had argued that it was not possible to forge consensus on NC candidate for PM.
NC Spokesperson Dilendra Prasad Badu said Dahal´s recent flip-flops clearly indicated that the UCPN (Maoist) and the other ruling parties want to prolong their stay in power by hook or by crook and avoid election.
"It seems they are likely to seek one more candidate´s name from a Madhes-based political party but that would again be another ploy to prolong the life of the present government," Badu, who shared a podium with Dahal at a function later in the afternoon, told Republica.
The differences between the ruling and oppositions camps has deepened as President Ram Baran Yadav on Friday for the second time extended the deadline given to the political parties to come up with a consensus prime minister candidate to head the new government.
While leaders from ruling as well as opposition parties have failed to end the stalemate by forging an agreement on a new prime ministerial candidate, the opposition parties led by NC and CPN-UML, who had last month announced anti-government protests, withdrew their protests on Friday.
This time around, the president has issued a six-day deadline for political parties but with the rift widening between the two sides, any solution to the stalemate appears nowhere in sight.