KATHMANDU, March 9: The Rastriya Janata Party Nepal (RJPN) has demanded the post of vice president and three ministries in the ongoing power-sharing talks with the ruling left alliance.
Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, who took the helm of the government on February 15, two months after he steered the alliance of CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Center) to a resounding victory, is working to bring RJPN and Federal Socialist Forum Nepal (FSFN) on board the government.
But the government, despite its assurance to revise the constitution, has not been able to take the talks to a decisive ending with two Madhes-based parties driving a hard bargain on the issue of power sharing.
Talks between the government and FSFN have stalled after the latter demanded deputy prime ministerial portfolio, together with the post of deputy speaker and three ministries.
On the other hand, RJPN has demanded the post of vice president, besides three ministries. The party is yet to get a clear response from the left alliance.
RJPN in its negotiation with the left alliance said that the post of vice president was demanded in view of the need to secure a suitable post for the party's top leader Mahantha Thakur. Thakur, according to them, is not interested in becoming a minister.
Because all five members in the party's presidium are eyeing ministerial berths, RJPN leaders want Thakur take a constitutional post.
Thakur, however, denied making such demand with the left alliance. He said that detailed talks on power sharing have not yet taken place.
"There has not been any discussion on the post of vice president or any issue of power sharing for that matter. The discussion is now focused on the issue of constitution amendment. Other things will be gradually discussed," said Thakur. Thakur said that he has not held any talks with the prime minister on the issue of an alliance since the two talked during oath taking ceremony of the member of federal parliament.
"I did talk to him over the telephone yesterday and today. But we discussed about Resham Chaudhary," said Thakur.
Notwithstanding the demand of the fourth largest party, chances that RJPN will get the post of vice president is slim, said an aide to Prime Minister Oli. He said that the current Vice President Nanda Bahadur Pun is confirmed to be repeated.
"There has already been an understanding between UML and Maoist to continue both incumbent president and vice president," he said.
Left leaders, however, said that the government would find another appropriate portfolio for RJPN if the post of deputy speaker goes to FSFN.
Despite having a comfortable majority in parliament, Oli appears eager to bring FSFN and RJPN on board. Bringing both terai-centric parties on board the ruling alliance will ensure a chance to run the government with relative political stability. It will also help the left restore the trust of Madhesi constituents who remain skeptical of the alliance due to its stance on constitution amendment.