Maoist Center divided along two lines as presidential election nears

Published On: February 17, 2023 09:30 AM NPT By: Tapendra Karki

KATHMANDU, Feb 16: While discussions are going on that the next president should be elected on the basis of national consensus, the Maoist Center which is leading the current government, appears divided along two lines over the issue. While one group of the Maoist Center says that the country’s next president should be made from within the existing alliance, the other group insists that a person without any direct affiliation to a party should be made the president.

Some leaders of the Maoist Center are in favor of not breaking the cooperation with the UML, paying attention to the upcoming elections and the left alliance. It is said that there is a suggestion coming from the districts to cooperate with the UML but not to bow down and to bring in someone who understands the sentiments of all the parties even if a person from the UML is made the president.

"In the current situation, cooperation and coordination between the left-wing parties seems necessary. National interests should also be taken into consideration. There has been a voice that after becoming the president, one should embrace the feelings of all parties, not just one party. Because of that, there is an approach of an idea that a person above the political parties could be supported as a presidential candidate. Hence, the presidential election is being discussed considering both angles," said a senior leader of the Maoist Center. According to that leader, after taking everyone's suggestions, the party chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal brought forward the issue of national consensus.

The Maoist Center Standing Committee members have not only paid attention to the current situation but also suggested that there should be cooperation among the left-wing forces to save the party in the future. The Maoist Center officials claimed that the situation would be more conducive to the policy of cooperating with the UML rather than teasing it by trying to form a coalition leaving out the UML, as there is no situation where the left coalition will be bigger than the UML.

The Election Commission has fixed the date of presidential election for March 9. Only the Maoist Center, which holds the decisive vote for the presidential election, is talking about national consensus. The UML has already said that its own candidate will be the candidate of national consensus as the post of president was given to the UML as per the power-sharing deal reached before forming the current government. Even the Nepali Congress has not yet formally decided to nominate its party leader for the post. Other parties are in a position to follow suit.

Devendra Paudel, secretary of the Maoist Center, said that he will take the initiative of national consensus for the president until the end. He said that he will search for a national consensus with the UML, if not, a meeting will be held on February 25 and a decision will be taken. “National consensus means inclusion of the UML. It is not about seeking national consensus by excluding the UML. The meeting will take a decision only if there is no consensus," said Secretary Paudel. According to him, national consensus can also be gathered for the person nominated by the UML.

"Regardless of the opinion that comes out, party Chairman Dahal is under a lot of pressure as there are two lines regarding the presidential election in the party," said a source. Sources also said that Dahal, who is also the Prime Minister, has the challenge of keeping the ruling alliance intact on the one hand and finding a national consensus on the President on the other hand. In the present situation, it is said that the relationship between UML Chairman KP Oli and Prime Minister Dahal is under a lot of strain. In the high-level political mechanism meeting held in Baluwatar last week, the UML chairman said that there is no need for further discussion on the already agreed matter, while Dahal took the stand that the new president of the country should be elected on the basis of national consensus. Due to this, it is suspected that there is a rift in the relationship between them.

UML is silent

As the date of the presidential election approaches, UML has made it clear that nothing more needs to be said as the consensus of December 25 reached on the president is still maintained. Although the UML secretariat meeting held on February 9 concluded that a conspiracy had begun against the ruling coalition, it did not make any negative comments about the parties involved. The UML secretariat meeting concluded that a conspiracy to break the alliance and topple the government is being hatched.

After the collapse of the Sudurpaschim government led by the UML, both the government and the coalition are in crisis, and they are trying to save it. "There is no need to comment on the government, ruling coalition and other parties," said a UML leader. The UML was especially shaken after the MPs of the Nagarik Unmukti Party did not give their vote of confidence to the UML-led government in Sudurpaschim Province. 

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