With only three days to go before the presidential deadline for the formation of a consensus government in Nepal expires, the country’s top political parties are engaged in hectic negotiations.

While the Unified Communist Party (Maoist) has projected vice chairman Dr. Baburam Bhattarai as its candidate to lead a unity government, the Nepali Congress (NC), after prolonged internal squabbling, has proposed former PM Sher Bahadur Deuba as its candidate. Both candidates have spoken to each other, besides reaching out to the other forces, particularly the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist) and the United Democratic Madhesi Front, in order to muster support.

Both the Maoists and NC have, in principle, agreed to the need for a national unity government, and the idea of ‘rotational leadership’. But each party has urged the other to support its claim for leadership of such a government. In talks on Wednesday, Maoists proposed that NC back Dr. Bhattarai in the first phase — till completion of the peace and constitutional process — and then Maoists would back an NC-led government with the mandate of holding the next elections. NC rejected the proposal, saying they could not support Maoist leadership till the peace process, specifically integration and rehabilitation of Maoist combatants, reached an irreversible stage and thus the Maoists should support NC in the first phase.

Both parties also reached out to the UML and UDMF, which would become decisive swing forces in choosing a PM. On Thursday, Maoist leaders urged the UML to support its candidate, but UML asked for ‘concrete action plan’ on the peace process first. UDMF, which has 71 MPs in Parliament, has urged the NC and Maoists to find a common candidate and sought a ‘trustworthy commitment on peace, constitution and Madhes issues’.

Analysts in Kathmandu point out that both NC and Maoists do not appear to be willing to relinquish their claims for leadership, diminishing the possibility of a consensus government till August 21, the deadline set by the President. The parties could either ask the President for more time, or move into election of PM through a majority vote in Parliament.

More In: International | News