Maoists do U-turn, Oli government survives in Nepal

Kathmandu, May 5 (IANS) A day after giving a call for a national unity government under its leadership, ruling alliance partner UCPN (Maoist), in a dramatic U-turn, decided on Thursday not to withdraw support to the K.P. Sharma Oli government “as of now”.

The Maoist party on Wednesday decided to form a new government by toppling the Oli government by withdrawing support to it after main opposition Nepali Congress offered the prime minister’s post to Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal aka Prachanda.

The Maoists also issued a public statement to the effect that the party will take a lead to form a new government under its own leadership.

After the Maoists’ about-turn on Thursday, the Nepali Congress said the UCPN (Maoist) “betrayed” them at the last moment.

Though it is not known what exactly transpired and why the Maoists did a U-turn, it is being speculated that a secret agreement between Oli and Prachanda was the main reason behind the Maoists’ about-turn, sources said.

On Thursday morning, Prime Minister Oli sent two senior members of his Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) [CPN-UML] to Prachanda’s residence where they are understood to have given gave him the assurance that “PM Oli will meet all the grievances of the Maoists”.

On the other hand, after the Maoists decided to form a new government, a section of the Maoist leadership was not happy and termed it an “Indian design” which the Maoists should avoid.

In a meeting between Prachanda and Nepali Congress president Sher Bahadur Deuba, the Maoist leader made it clear that he cannot lead the new government until the UML extends support.

“I want to become the PM of a national unity or consensus government, not a majority one,” Prachanda told Deuba.

NC leaders said they have been betrayed by the Maoists.

Addressing a programme in Kathmandu on Thursday, Prachanda said other political parties, including CPN (UML), did not agree on the formation of a new government “so we have backtracked from our decision”.

“I wanted to become PM of a national consensus, not the PM of majority,” he clarified.

“Our party has decided to wait, given that there are some legal complications in registering a no-confidence motion against this government. The coalition will remain intact as of now,” said Maoist leader Janardan Sharma.

On Wednesday morning, UCPN (Maoist) surprised its partners in the coalition with a formal announcement of its plan to break the alliance. The party said it was also considering pulling back its members from the government.

Later on in the day, Oli, whose UML is the second largest party in parliament, made a new offer to Prachanda to break the Maoist-NC alliance-in-making.

During a meeting with Maoist leaders, including Prachanda, at his official residence, Oli said he was ready to support a Maoist-led government if the former rebels support him in presenting the annual budget policies and programmes.

Maoist leaders said the meeting ended with an understanding to sign a new agreement on rotating the government’s leadership between the two parties.

It is a ploy to split the Leftist alliance in Nepal, said UML Secretary Pradip Gyawali, adding that the latest political developments in Nepal were “dramatic, surprising and astonishing”.

“Some forces do not want stability in Nepal and are trying to pull Nepal into a vicious circle of political instability,” he added.

(Anil Giri can be contacted at girianil@gmail.com)

–IANS

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