Published On: February 23, 2023 02:30 PM NPT By: Bal Krishna Adhikari
KATHMANDU, Feb 23: Major political parties have intensified political meetings to decide on a candidate for the country’s new president.
As the date of candidacy registration for new president is just days away, not only the top leaders of the major parties, but also the representatives of various powerful nations in Kathmandu have intensified meetings. However, the parties are yet to agree on who to make the presidential candidate, while the new political equation is yet to get a formal shape.
Leaders claim that the agreement between the Maoist Center and the Nepali Congress, which reached the conclusion that UML will not be given a president according to the agreement of December 25, will revive the alliance that existed before the last general elections.
Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, who is also the chairman of the Maoist Center, assured the NC of support for the Nepali Congress candidate for the presidency on Sunday evening. Sources claim that Dahal, who took the right to decide on the president himself from the meeting of the party officials held on Monday, reached an agreement with Nepali Congress leaders on Wednesday evening to revive the five-party alliance that existed before the election. "An agreement has been reached between the Nepali Congress and the Maoists to revive the old five-party alliance," said one of the leaders who participated in the meeting. Bilateral and multilateral discussions will be held today for that. The leader claims that after discussions with parties including CPN (Unified Socialist), JSP, a meeting of the five parties will be held on Thursday. "Wednesday's discussion between the Nepali Congress and the Maoists has ended positively," said the leader who participated in the discussions.
The leaders claim that the two parties are ready to move forward by forging an understanding with other parties on issues including supporting the Nepali Congress candidate for the presidency and continuing the current Maoist-led government. “The president will be the candidate of Nepali Congress, which is why the government will continue. We will move forward by reassuring other parties as well,” said the leader, “We will move forward after correcting the mistake that happened on December 25.” In the discussions between the top leaders of the two parties in Baluwatar, Prime Minister Dahal expressed his curiosity over who the presidential candidate from the Nepali Congress would be. But he also said that he had no problem with the decision taken by the NC. The NC is preparing to promote its leader Ramchandra Paudel to the presidency. Before discussing with the Maoist leaders, the leaders including Nepali Congress President Deuba gathered for a meeting in Dhumbarahi.
Before that, leaders including CPN (Unified Socialist) Chairman Madhav Kumar Nepal held discussions with NC leaders at Deuba’s residence. The Chairman of CPN (Unified Socialist) Nepal, who reached Deuba’s residence Dhumbarahi along with Ghanshyam Bhusal and Beduram Bhusal, asked for cooperation saying that his party also has a claim to the post of President. CPN (Unified Socialist) General Secretary Beduram, who participated in the meeting with Nepali Congress leaders, stated that the constitution and democracy are being attacked and he proposed that the pro-constitution and pro-democracy forces should move forward together as in the past. Stating that the NC leaders are also unanimous that the supporters of the constitution should move forward together, he said, "On behalf of our party, we have submitted a natural claim to the president." He added, "The discussion is not over, Nepali Congress will also continue meeting today. And between us and the Maoists, we will reach a conclusion through multilateral discussion. The secretariat meeting of CPN (Unified Socialist) held on Wednesday decided to put forward Chairman Nepal as a candidate for the new president. Informing that the party has decided to advance Chairman Nepal to the presidency, Vice Chairman Rajendra Prasad Pandey said, "It has been decided to discuss the matter with all political parties."
In the secretariat meeting, Chairman Nepal talked about the party meetings and discussions going on during the presidential election and said that he had a meeting with UML Chairman KP Oli on Sunday. Nepal met with Oli at the residence of leader Krishna Kumar Shrestha of CPN (Unified Socialist). It is said that during the meeting, Oli proposed to Nepal to become the president with party unification. Referring to Oli's proposal to Madhav Kumar Nepal to unify the party, one of the leaders who participated in the meeting said, "Chairman Nepal said he was not persuaded by Oli's proposal."
In the meeting, Madhav Kumar Nepal expressed the opinion that even the Maoist Center was not in favor of cooperation with the UML and said that the pre-election alliance under the leadership of the Nepali Congress would be revived. Pandey, vice chairman of CPN (Unified Socialist), said that there was no proposal from UML Chairman Oli to become the president of Nepal and there was no possibility of immediate integration with the UML.
Nepali Congress leader Ramchandra Paudel met Madhav Kumar Nepal on Wednesday as he tried to become a candidate for the Presidential election with the support of the UML. Madhav Kumar Nepal said that they will discuss this in the party meeting and proceed accordingly. Before CPN (Unified Socialist) leaders met Nepali Congress leaders, JSP chairman Upendra Yadav met the leaders along with Deuba. He is said to have assured that if there is an agreement between Nepali Congress, Maoist Center and CPN (Unified Socialist) on the presidency, his party will also support and help him. Yadav proposed to Deuba that his party should get the post of vice president, saying that only the people from hill communities are represented in the state's key post. JSP, which had left the then Nepali Congress-led ruling alliance in the run-up to the provincial and House of Representatives elections, and aligned itself with the UML, is not satisfied with being in the current ruling alliance.
Prime Minister Dahal and UML Chairman Oli discussed the presidential candidate on Wednesday. Oli reached Baluwatar after Chinese Ambassador to Nepal Chen Song met Prime Minister Dahal. In the hour-long discussion, Oli asked Dahal to agree to the agreement of December 25.
Sources claim that Oli, who met Madhav Kumar Nepal, who split from the UML, proposed him for the presidency on Sunday evening and proposed the names of party leaders including party vice-chairman Subas Chandra Nemwang during the meeting with Dahal. Sources claim that he also took the name of Madhav Kumar Nepal as the president. Apart from Nepali Congress, he has also taken the names of leaders including Nemwang, Ishwar Pokharel, Mahendra Bahadur Pandey, Astalaxmi Shakya, Dormani Poudel, Keshav Badal.
Oli has assured the chairman of Loktantrik Samajwadi Party (LSP), Mahanth Thakur, that he will continue to support the LSP if a member from his party loses the chance to become president. Accordingly, LSP has put forward Chairman Thakur as the presidential candidate. They met not only UML Chairman Oli but also Prime Minister Dahal on Tuesday and asked for help, and on Wednesday morning they also met Nepali Congress President Deuba. Stating that Thakur is a suitable candidate for the presidency, the LSP leaders have sought help from Nepali Congress. Nepali Congress leaders assured that LSP is in the opposition alliance and will move forward by agreeing.
Leaders claim that Oli has previously assured various leaders including former Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai, Amik Sherchan as well as current Vice President Nanda Bahadur Pun to support them for the presidency. A Maoist official said that Oli has not stopped proposing various people for the presidency in order to bring suspicion and controversy within the parties as well as the interests of the power centers.
Interest of foreign powers in new presidential election
While the leaders of major political parties are busy discussing the new presidential candidate, the Chinese ambassador to Nepal, Chen Song, has intensified his political meetings. With the formation of a new government under the leadership of Dahal, the interest of the powerful nations has increased. Foreign power leaders continue to visit Nepal. Chinese Ambassador Chen met Prime Minister Dahal and Unified Socialist Chairman Nepal on Wednesday. He met Dahal and Nepal on the same day. After the Chinese ambassador met Dahal, UML Chairman Oli reached Baluwatar. Although it is said that the Chinese ambassador had a courtesy meeting, he had previously met with Dahal on January 2 and with Oli on Friday by reaching his residence in Balkot. Ambassador Chen's activism has increased after the news came out that the Maoist Center will break its cooperation with the UML and move forward with the parties including the NC. The activism of the Chinese ambassador, who is said to be in favor of the alliance between the Communist parties including the UML and the Maoist Center, has been viewed in the same way.
Indian Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra came to Kathmandu on February 13. Diplomatic experts say that his meeting played a role in reviving the old alliance including the NC and Maoists. In Kathmandu, he met leaders including Prime Minister Dahal, Nepali Congress President Deuba, UML Chairman Oli. After the formation of the new government, the visits of representatives and high officials of various countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom, have increased.
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