September 27, 2017 02:15 AM NPT
KATHMANDU, SEPT 27: The main opposition, the CPN-UML has expedited backdoor negotiations with the CPN (Maoist Center) to form a pre-poll alliance for the provincial and parliamentary elections scheduled for November 26 and December 7.
The effort to strike a deal on the pre-poll alliance, if materialized, would not only ensure the formation of a formidable electoral alliance but also pave the way for a long term partnership between the two leftist forces.
Leaders from both parties said that they plan to contest the elections together with common agendas and plans.
Confirming the pre-poll alliance talks with the Maoist Center, UML senior leader Madhav Kumar Nepal said that he was hoping for a positive outcome.
"UML is ready for an electoral alliance with the Maoist Center. Such an alliance could be formed if the Maoist Center leadership agrees," said Nepal. Nepal said that an alliance has become a necessity as it is impossible for a party to form the government alone.
The Maoist Center is an obvious choice for the UML to forge an electoral alliance as the two parties share a common ideology as well as constituencies. The UML also sees this as an opportune moment to break the coalition led by the Nepali Congress.
Even as the top leaders from both parties remain cautiously optimistic for a deal, forming an alliance is easier said than done. The two parties had held rounds of negotiation to form an alliance during the local polls without much success.
Like the UML, the Nepali Congress looks equally determined to keep the coalition intact during and after the provincial and parliamentary elections. NC and Maoist Center had fielded consensual candidates in over 50 local units. NC leaders have proposed the Maoist Center to set up an alliance of the parties in the ruling coalition like in the local polls. By forming an alliance of the parties in the ruling coalition, NC would not only bolster its performance but also isolate the UML.
Competing proposals from the two largest parties have put the Maoist Center in a fix. Talking to the media at Bharatpur on Tuesday, Maoist Center Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal said his party was open to all options regarding a poll alliance. He said that the Maoist Center was carefully weighing the proposals of the two parties, without divulging further details.
"Negotiations are underway with both UML and NC to forge an electoral alliance. The party will take an appropriate decision," said Dahal, adding that his party would contest alone if there is no breakthrough in the negotiation.
A leader close to the Maoist supremo said that the party is not in a mood to stay in the NC-led alliance under the current circumstances. He, however, said that the third largest party is not keen to shake hands with the UML unless it benefits from it.
"Deubaji wants to continue the current alliance after the elections as well. But he doesn't look keen to rotate premiership anytime soon although our party has agreed to support him only for nine months," said the leader.