Prachanda rules out Bhattarai's resignation

A day after Nepal's Constituent Assembly was dissolved without the constitution being written, top parties traded accusations and failed to arrive at a common roadmap. The Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) blamed “reactionaries” for stalling a federal constitution. The Nepali Congress and Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist) said that they saw the CA dissolution as a “Maoist conspiracy to capture state power”.

At a press conference, Maoist chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda' said that his party had tried to save the CA till the very end, and had even contemplated imposing an emergency to extend the CA's tenure. But ultimately, he argued, “The only democratic option was going for elections. We went by the Supreme Court verdict which had suggested fresh polls as an alternative if the constitution was not written.”

Mr. Prachanda said that the core problem was that the NC and the UML did not “understand the essence of federalism” and were “scared” of it. “How can we write a constitution which does not address the aspirations of a large segment of our population? I did not compromise on the issues of ethnic minorities and oppressed in the country.” He added the Maoists would fight polls on the plank of identity-based federalism among other issues, and predicted a two-thirds majority for the party.

Categorically rejecting any chance of Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai resigning, the Maoist chairman, however, said he was confident of a deal. “The other parties will be angry for a few days, but ultimately there is no alternative to an agreement. They will join a national unity government.”

NC, UML and smaller Right-wing fringe parties met on Monday and condemned the government for “unconstitutionally” declaring elections. The parties called for the Prime Minister's immediate resignation, and said that in the absence of Parliament, the government had no legitimacy or constitutional basis. Co-chairman of the Rashtriya Janashakti Party, Dr. Prakash Chandra Lohani, told The Hindu, “I see it as the third attempt by the Maoists to capture state power. The first was during the army chief episode; the second during the May 2010 strike; and this is according to Bhattarai's roadmap of taking over power by crushing state institutions.” An NC leader, on the condition of anonymity, said that they hoped the President would step in and counter the government, and the party's current efforts were centred on creating an environment for it.

The deepening political battle, and a possibility of confrontation between existing institutions, has thrown into question the prospects of a timely election.

One of Nepal's senior-most bureaucrats told The Hindu, “The interim constitution did not envisage such a situation. There is no platform left to amend it either. Everything has to happen according to political consensus even to get to the election stage. Otherwise, there will be legal challenges.”

More In: International | News