Left in backdoor talks to bring FSFN on board

Published On: December 21, 2017 07:45 AM NPT By: Roshan Sedhai

Upendra Yadav non-committal

KATHMANDU, Dec 21: Preliminary efforts to form a left alliance government have started behind the scenes even as the government and the opposition remain in impasse over an election-related bill awaiting approval of President Bidya Devi Bhandari, signaling possible delay in peaceful transfer of power.

The UML, which is expected to lead the next government, has been working to strike a power-sharing agreement with the CPN (Maoist Center), while making a parallel attempt to broaden the coalition by bringing in Upendra Yadav’s Federal Socialist Forum Nepal (FSFN).

The left alliance, which won a landslide in the parliamentary and provincial elections held on November 26 and December 7, is under no compulsion to lure smaller parties outside the alliance to form government at the center and six of the seven provinces.

But leaders say both UML and Maoists are keen to induct FSFN, one of the two Madhes-based parties elected to parliament besides the three major parties, to widen the left coalition and give a positive message to Madhesi constituencies, which remain highly skeptical of the left alliance. The move will also avert possible crisis that the smaller parties might pose to the government in future.  Some UML leaders are seeing a tactical benefit in bringing Yadav to the coalition since their party would be able to save the coalition with FSFN support even if the alliance with Maoist falls apart down the line. 

“Our party chairman (Pushpa Kamal Dahal) is himself taking lead to lure Yadav into the coalition. We are hoping that the discussions would be fruitful,” said CPN (Maoist Center) spokesperson Pampha Bhusal. 

Cross party leaders privy to the negotiations said Dahal, who is likely to share the premiership with Oli, has held multiple rounds of talks on the issue with UML Chair Oli and Yadav through telephone.

While Oli appears willing to bring Yadav’s party on board, Yadav has not given a clear indication about joining the government, according to three leaders with knowledge of the backdoor negotiations. The left leaders are expected to hold a meeting with Yadav after the latter returns to Kathmandu from the tarai where he has been participating in victory rallies.

Talking to Republica, Yadav denied having any substantial talks with the left leaders about joining the coalition or the government. But he hinted that there could be partnership with the left at the center if the alliance became flexible on constitution amendment.

FSFN Co-chair Rajendra Shrestha said that the FSFN is open to joining the government if their conditions are fulfilled. 

“If the left alliance agrees to address our concerns regarding the constitution and offers good deal on power-sharing, I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t join the government at the center,” said Shrestha, while declining any official proposal from the left alliance.

Shrestha however said that his party and the Rastriya Janata Party Nepal will jointly form the provincial government in Province 2.

“FSFN and RJPN fought the election together with a promise to form a joint government. It would be against the mandate of the people to form government with other parties,” said Shrestha. 
Province 2 is the only province where the left alliance lost the elections.

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