Nepali Congress to stake claim to new government

Kathmandu, Dec 23: With more than a month having passed since the Nov 19 Constituent Assembly elections in Nepal and yet no government in sight, the Nepali Congress, the single largest party in the new house, has formally decided to take leadership in government-formation.

The NC has decided to intensify its discussions in this regard with other political parties — without naming its prime ministerial candidate.

The first meeting of the party’s Central Working Committee Sunday decided to lead the government and to hold talks in this regard with other parties — the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML), the Prachanda-led United Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-M) and other regional parties.

The Nepali Congress is currently having power-sharing talks with CPN-UML, the second largest party in the newly-elected assembly.

“Being the largest party in the Constituent Assembly, it has the mandate to lead both the government and constitution drafting process and deliver the constitution within a year,” the NC CWC said.

The party has also decided to constitute a consensual government bringing all political parties on board but said the party should initiate the constitution drafting process by forming a majority-based government if there was a delay in reaching a consensus.

“The main agenda of constitution writing will be further pushed back if there is a delay in government-formation. So, this issue needs to be sorted out as early as possible by intensifying talks with other parties,” the CWC said.

As the previous Constituent Assembly was dissolved without it delivering a constitution, the Nepali Congress has decided to give priority to statute-formation rather than government-formation, said Chandra Bhandari, member of the NC Central Working Committee.

Another party leader, Gagan Thapa also told IANS that the party has decided to focus on the constitution-writing process than on forming the government and in power politics.

Kathmandu is unlikely to see a new government anytime soon because several rounds of inter-party talks didn’t yield any results as the Maoists continue driving a hard bargain over the constitution-drafting process.

Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal alias Prachanda’s proposal to head the high-level political committee mechanism permanently until the final promulgation of the constitution has made the political situation more complicated with the other parties having serious reservations against it.

“We outrightly reject the proposition,” said CPN-UML leader Raghu Pant.

The Maoist party’s demands of seeking a big role in the constitution-drafting process has made it difficult to strike a political deal in Nepal.

The Maoists’s proposal to hold another election after one year, immediately following the promulgation of the constitution, has also created a roadblock in cross-parry talks.

While political parties are working double-shifts to iron out the differences, the inconclusive meetings ad infinitum have ignited anger and frustration among the people.