Maoist Center bats for ‘consensus candidate’ for new President amid fears of power concentration with the UML

Published On: January 27, 2023 08:34 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, Jan 26: CPN (Maoist Center) Chairman and Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal has stressed the need for forging national consensus on the presidential candidate.

Addressing the party’s Standing Committee (SC) meeting that began in the capital on Thursday, Chairman Dahal said there is a need to forge national consensus on the presidential candidate also in view of the power balance among major political parties in the new political dispensation.

“It is important to think about the situation of tomorrow before making any decision. We have already given the speaker [of House of Representatives] to the UML. It is Oli ji who will be prime minister after two years. What will happen next? We need to think seriously now itself keeping in view such a situation,” a Standing Committee member quoted Chairman Dahal as saying.

Standing Committee member Ram Karki said that Chairman Dahal explained in detail the possible power balance that could be in place after the election to the president. “Chairman Comrade put forth his views on the reasons behind the failure to retain the pre-election alliance, the pros and cons of the current ruling alliance and new possibilities of power equation,” Karki told Republica.

Standing Committee members shared that Chairman Dahal had expressed concerns about the future power equation once all pillars of democracy such as speaker, prime minister, president and judiciary are held by a single party. While UML candidate Devraj Ghimire has been already elected as the Speaker of the House of Representatives (HoR), there has been an agreement to give UML the post of prime minister after two years.

Reportedly, the two parties had earlier reached an understanding to elect a UML candidate as the new President. Maoist Center leaders argue that Acting Chief Justice Hari Krishna Karki, who once served as Attorney General under Prime Minister KP Oli, may still have his allegiance to the UML. “Chairman Comrade has stressed the need to ensure balance of power among parties,” said Karki.

In view of the possible concentration of all powers in the UML, the Maoist Center has stressed the need for forging a national consensus on the presidential candidate — something the UML has rejected outright.

Talking to media persons after the meeting, Standing Committee member Devendra Poudel said that the issue of forging national consensus on the presidential candidates has emerged strongly in the meeting. “We will try to forge national consensus on the presidential candidate. There cannot be national consensus by bypassing the Nepali Congress,” he said.

Most Maoist Center leaders believe that possible political disasters could be averted if there is a consensus candidate of new president and parliament can be saved for a full five-year term. “All political parties supported the vote of confidence motion in parliament. We should move ahead in the same spirit in the election to the president. If we are able to find a consensus candidate for the post of president, this can help avert political disasters, save parliament for a full five years and safeguard the constitution,” Paudel further said.

There is a fear among the parties that the UML may again take a decision to dissolve parliament and announce a midterm election if the same party holds the portfolios of prime minister and president as it did in the previous parliament. Party insiders say it is out of the same fear the Maoist Center is gradually inching closer to the NC even as it earlier broke the alliance and decided to form a new government under its leadership with the support of the UML.

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