Oct 6, 2017-Leaders of the ruling Nepali Congress (NC) appeared sharply divided during the party’s executive committee meeting on Thursday over the party’s next move in the wake of rapid political developments which have brought communist forces together.
An announcement of a left electoral alliance between the CPN-UML, the CPN (Maoist Centre) and Naya Shakti Nepal on Tuesday has left the ruling party scrambling.
Some NC leaders during Thursday’s meeting were of the view that the Maoist Centre “has lost the moral and political ground to stay in the government” and that Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba should sack the Maoist ministers and induct new ministers into his Cabinet from other parties. Others, however, said there was no need to change the ministers “as the Maoist Centre has expressed its commitment to continue its support” to the government.
Youth leaders like Gagan Thapa and Min Bishwokarma among others came up with strong views that the Maoist Centre should leave the government on moral ground. The NC’s Central Working Committee (CWC) meeting called for Friday is set to discuss the agenda.
PM Deuba is learnt to have been in consultation with party leaders and legal experts about the possible crisis that his government could face in the wake of what the NC has described as an unexpected and unusual development. Some NC leaders even fear that the UML and the Maoist Centre could move a no-confidence motion in a bid to form their government ahead of elections.
The first phase of federal and provincial elections is scheduled for November 26. Since nomination filing date has been set for October 22, the incumbent Parliament’s term will expire on October 21—in about three weeks.
“The party’s executive committee meeting witnessed two schools of thought on the Cabinet reshuffle. The CWC will discuss the issue on Friday,” said NC leader Bimalendra Nidhi. Another leader, Prakash Sharan Mahat, however, said there are no immediate plans to reshuffle the Cabinet.
“The party has not yet held discussion on sacking the ministers from the Maoist Centre,” he said.
But the party did dwell on the next move in the event of Maoist Centre’s decision to withdraw support to the government, according to some leaders. NC leaders, however, seem confident that the Deuba government will not fall into minority even if the Maoist Centre decides to withdraw support.
Deuba was elected prime minister on June 6 with 388 votes in his favour in the 593-strong Parliament. The Maoist Centre has 82 seats in Parliament. Nonetheless, in a bid to counter the left electoral alliance, the NC has already started the process to forge a “broader democratic alliance”.
During a meeting with the NC on Wednesday, five parties expressed their commitment to extend support to the government “if the Maoist Centre decides to pull support”. Nidhi said the parties will reach out to other fringe parties as well.
According to NC leaders, the CWC meeting on Friday will discuss the UML-Maoist Centre-Naya Shakti alliance, the party’s next move and selection of candidates for the upcoming elections among others.
The Maoist party, however, has said it would continue its support to the government even though it has decided to forge a left electoral alliance. The UML has also said that a change of guard before the elections is not its priority.