PM fails to get support

KATHMANDU: Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal has been engaged in a series of marathon political consultations following the government’s decision to seek clarification from Chief of Army Staff Rookmangud Katawal. But it seems that he has failed to garner support of other parties on the government decision.

After trying hard for 10 days, he decided to take a break from hectic political schedule yesterday and retreated to a wildlife resort.

Lack of necessary political consultations has only invited further confusion on the issue. Though the cabinet had asked the CoAS to furnish his clarification within 24 hours, the government is undecided over his explanation even after 10 days.

The PM has been facing pressure from different corners on the CoAS row. While the international community has been urging him not to sack the army chief, political parties at home, even the coalition partners, have been advising him to take decision on a consensus basis. Coalition partners — the UML and the MJF — have even threatened to pull out from the government if the Maoist removed the CoAS.

The Maoist supremo did not get any solace from President Dr Ram Baran Yadav as well.

It is learnt that the President raised some constitutional and legal questions behind the government’s move to

quiz the army chief. Dahal failed to take the President on his side.

The PM is facing tremendous pressure from his party leaders and cadres. The hardliners in the party are believed to have asked the PM to remove the CoAS at any cost. They have even urged the PM to quit the government if the party failed to oust Katawal.

The PM has called a five-party meeting tomorrow morning to garner support for his decision, according to Science and Technology Minister Ganesh Shah. “This might be the PM’s last ditch effort,” he said.

A Maoist leader, requesting anonymity, claimed that the Maoists would unilaterally decide to remove the army chief if they failed to reach a consensus. “Katawal will be sacked within a day or two,” he added.

It is also learnt that the UCPN-Maoist has already directed its chapters and sister organisations to demonstrate in favour of the government decision. Considering the pressure within the party, the Maoists are not expected to roll back their decision to oust the CoAS.

The Nepali Congress has been maintaining that the action against the army chief will derail the peace process. The NC has also directed its sister organisations to protest the government’s decision from tomorrow.

UML president Jhala Nath Khanal has warned the UCPN-Maoist not to take any action against the army chief without consensus.

MJF leader Sharat Singh Bhandari suggested warning the CoAS instead of taking further action against him. “This will put all sides in a win-win situation,” he said.