#Trouble Within Ruling Coalition

Arrest of NC leaders widens rift between ruling NC and the Maoist Center

Published On: August 11, 2023 10:35 PM NPT By: Kosh Raj Koirala  | @KoshRKoirala

KATHMANDU, August 11: The differences between the two main ruling parties, the Nepali Congress (NC) and the CPN (Maoist Center), have widened following the latest arrest of NC lawmaker Sunil Sharma in connection with fake academic certificates.

NC leaders allege that the ruling Maoist Center was selectively targeting NC leaders in the arrests, even as the top leaders of the Maoist Center accused of serious crimes are not apprehended despite public criticisms. Maoist Center Vice Chairman Narayan Kaji Shrestha currently holds the portfolio of the home ministry.

Party insiders say the rift between the two ruling parties started growing after the arrest of NC leader Bal Krishna Khand in connection with the fake Bhutanese refugee scam. Khand is a close confidante of NC President Sher Bahadur Deuba.

The issue was raised during the NC's Parliamentary Party (PP) meeting held on Friday. Most of the lawmakers speaking during the meeting alleged that Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Shrestha had been selectively acting against NC leaders.

"Among other issues, the arrest of lawmaker Sharma was discussed prominently during the meeting. Our party has expressed serious objection over the arrest. Our question is: Why was the arrest made this time around?" NC lawmaker Ram Hari Khatiwada told Republica.

Lawmakers also said that it would be difficult to continue with the current coalition if the NC leaders are selectively targeted by the Pushpa Kamal Dahal-led government. Although lawmaker Sharma is considered close to the rival faction, NC President Deuba had also expressed serious concern over Sharma's arrest.

Upon learning that he was criticized in the NC PP meeting, Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Shrestha reached the residence of NC President Deuba in Dhumbarahi on Friday evening. Although the meeting lasted for over 45 minutes, it is not immediately clear what transpired during the meeting.

Most of the NC lawmakers have demanded Home Minister Shrestha inform the parliament and the public about the recent arrests of NC leaders. Speaking at the PP meeting on Friday, NC lawmaker Arzu Deuba, who is also the spouse of NC President Deuba, suggested that the party leadership seriously consider the coalition with the Maoist Center.

Several lawmakers, including Pratima Gautam, Sarita Prasain, and Pradip Paudel, argued that Home Minister Shrestha had tried to show heroism and had acted in vengeance against Sharma, who had criticized the performance of Home Minister Shrestha in the 100kg gold smuggling case.

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