Nepal’s opposition parties, led by Nepali Congress (NC) and Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist), have announced an anti-government agitation on Saturday, and declared that only Prime Minister Dr. Baburam Bhattarai’s exit could pave the way for elections.

In a statement read out at a press conference here, opposition parties said their aim was the resignation of the government and the formation of a unity government — to pass a full budget, fill in vacant constitutional positions and conduct elections to Constituent Assembly (CA)-Parliament in April-May of 2013. The parties brought out a detailed month-long protest programme, to start on November 17. This would include interaction with civil society; mass meetings in Kathmandu and 15 other districts; sit-in in front of district administration offices; and rallies.

The announcement came a day after an NC mass meeting in Kathmandu upped the ante against the government, accusing the Maoists of aiming to establish a ‘one-party dictatorship’. Blaming the Maoists for creating a ‘vacuum’ by ‘dissolving the Constituent Assembly’, NC president Sushil Koirala said, “We want to explain to the Maoists: don’t play with democracy…The only way out is elections now, but the government must resign to make way for fresh polls.”

Ruling out Dr. Bhattarai’s resignation, a senior source in Nepal Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) had told The Hindu last week, “Why should the PM resign? Imagine a scenario where Dr. Manmohan Singh in India calls for elections. Does he, as the caretaker, then hold polls or will the President appoint someone else arbitrarily? There is no way to constitutionally replace PM Bhattarai.”

Maoist leaders have invited the opposition parties to transform the government into a national unity formation, and offered them portfolios of their choice.

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