KATHMANDU, Dec 26: While rejecting the conditions set by Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai for handing over government leadership to the party, Nepali Congress (NC) President Sushil Koirala has said he would not “bow” to any force to get the prime ministerial berth.
Addressing the concluding ceremony of the four-day national gathering of the party´s electoral region-level presidents in Thali on Tuesday, Koirala also warned of stringent protests if there was no consensus through negotiations.
He asked all the regional presidents to be ready for election, fresh protests against the government and the challenges ahead.
Koirala said he wouldn´t compromise political ideals to secure the prime ministerial position. "The prime ministerial berth is not a big deal for me. I won´t compromise anything that would let the Nepali Congress down," he said.
Koirala´s remarks come at a time when Prime Minister Bhattarai has set conditions that NC should first agree on a “package deal” on various issues concerning the peace process and fresh Constituent Assembly (CA) polls and then join his government for “some time” before NC is allowed to lead the government. Koirala along with other senior NC leaders also ruled out the possibility of joining the Bhattarai-led government at any cost.
Koirala said though NC wants to keep all options open, protest would be the only alternative to press the prime minister to forge consensus. "Nepali Congress is not weak. Protests have become necessary to show both the national and international community the strength of NC," he further said.
Koirala also accused the prime minister of trying to tarnish NC´s image by spreading false rumors about NC´s stance on federalism. Koirala reminded that it was the NC which proposed federalism as the immutable provision in the Interim Constitution 2007.
He also vented anger over the party´s youth leaders´ meeting with the prime minister, whom the party decided to boycott, and acting as Bhattarai´s “messenger”. He also directed all the leaders to abide by the official decision of the party.
All top leaders including senior leader Sher Bahadur Deuba, Vice President Ram Chandra Paudel, general secretaries Krishna Prasad Sitaula and Prakash Man Singh were very critical of the prime minister.
Deuba said there was no alternative to protests if the prime minister did not step down and help resolve the political deadlock. "NC has boycotted Baburam Bhattarai after he dissolved the CA and unilaterally announced fresh election. NC won´t join Bhattarai-led government," he said.
Similarly, Sitaula said NC would now move ahead with new zeal for ouster of Bhattarai-led government. "NC would not join the government led by a person who has invited crisis in the country," he said.
The national gathering of the party´s regional presidents concluded by issuing a four-point Thali Declaration which, among other things, has demanded formation of an NC-led unity government to hold “free and fair” polls by mid-May. The Declaration has also urged the party leadership to announce fresh protest programs against the government.
The declaration has alleged that the totalitarian character of Baburam Bhattarai-led government and the ruling UCPN (Maoist) was solely to be blamed for the political and constitutional difficulties facing the country. "We urge the leadership to go for stringent protests for ouster of the Bhattarai-led government and conduct of fresh poll by mid-May," states the declaration paper.
All 240 electoral region-level presidents of NC had arrived in Kathmandu to attend the gathering organized by the party´s Central Policy and Orientation Academy. The regional presidents have also demanded that local level election be held together with the CA election by mid-May to help strengthen the foundation of democracy.
Among other things, the regional presidents in their resolution proposals have committed to run at least one income generating pilot project in each electoral region targeting youths and women and a project that mobilizes local resources in coordination with government and non-government organizations.