PM’s tweet fuels trust crisis in left alliance

Published On: May 9, 2018 07:37 AM NPT By: Roshan Sedhai

KATHMANDU, May 9: The crisis of trust in the left alliance has been laid bare after a cryptic tweet from Prime Minister KP Oli, allegedly directed at the CPN (Maoist Center), an ally in the coalition government, lashed out at “some opportunists used to changing power equations for personal gain.”

In a strong-worded twitter message, Oli vented anger at “those adapted to changing power equation for personal gain” without taking names. 

“We are moving ahead with the agenda of development and prosperity. Those who are used to changing power equation for their vested interests might not like it. The people are strong in democracy and it’s duly reflected in the works of the government. The government takes its mandate from the people. The sovereignty is vested in the people,” Prime Minister Oli tweeted. 
The tweet, which was posted late night on Monday, comes amid the lingering in unification talks between Oli and CPN (Maoist Center) Chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal. Despite rounds of talks, the two parties, which signed a seven-point framework deal for merger in February, have not been able to give final shape to the merger due to differences over power sharing and ideology. 

Just hours ahead of the tweet, Dahal on Monday warned that the Maoist Center would walk away from the unification talks if the “people’s war” was not given due credit for the country’s historical achievements. 

Maoist leaders were quick to take note of the tweet and demand a clarification over the statement which the party’s top guns concluded was directed at them. They had reasons to feel so. In 2016, Oli was forced to step down as prime minister after the Maoist Center, which was in the government until then, suddenly formed a new power equation with the Nepali Congress (NC).  Last year, the party broke its alliance with the NC to forge an electoral alliance with the UML after it appeared that the party was headed for a stinging defeat. 

The cryptic message became the main point of discussion during Maoist Center’s parliamentary party meeting on Tuesday. Leaders said that Dahal had raised the matter with Oli during a meeting with the latter on the day and demanded clarification on the matter. Oli reportedly told Dahal that the message was used in a different context.

The tweet has fueled speculations that the two parties are still far from a final deal on merger. The unity talks have not been able to conclude the unification process “largely due to distrust”. 

At the heart of the distrust is Oli’s refusal to give a written assurance to rotate premiership with Dahal. Maoist leaders say there are also disputes over the division of power between the two parties. Maoists have been demanding “equal and dignified” share of power along the party structures. UML, the largest party in parliament, has said that the power sharing should be based on the parties’ strength in the federal and provincial assemblies. In that case, Maoist Center is likely to get less than 40 percent stake in the new party. 

“In addition to that, Prime Minister Oli’s working style is not helping. He is not consulting our party while taking important decisions. This is a big reason for the distrust,” said Mani Thapa, a Maoist leader. 

Maoist Center Chairman Dahal is increasingly unhappy with Oli for not consulting him on matters of governance. He raised this matter during a meeting with Oli on Tuesday.  

“Even as just a few days remain for the budget, there has not been an open discussion on the issue. The budget should be unveiled after proper consultation,” said Maoist leader Dev Gurung. 
A meeting of the Maoist Center has asked the government to bring programs and policies as per the spirit of the election manifesto. Sources said that the party has been demanding special packages for families of martyrs, former Maoist guerrillas and cadres. 
“This is the first budget after the election. The government should deliver on the promises made during the elections,” said Gurung. 

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