Congress unity talks talks fail to progress

Kathmandu, July 7:

Talks aimed at paving the way for the unification of the Nepali Congress (NC) and NC (Democratic) did not make much headway today with NC president and Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala and NC (D) president Sher Bahadur Deuba failing to agree on the unification formula suggested by a task force.

Following the meeting, Koirala told the task force to do more spadework, fine-tune the formula and report back “very soon.”

The meeting held in Baluwatar marked the culmination of months of intense efforts made by Krishna Prasad Bhattarai to bring the two parties together.

“We talked about unification. This (unification) will happen but time for the same has not been stipulated by Girijababu,” NC (D) president Deuba told reporters after the meeting.

He said that suggestions given by the task force have been discussed.

Among other things, the task force of the NC has suggested that seniority along with “contribution” be the criteria when it comes to passing on the leadership at the local level.

The formula concerning appointment of office-bearers of the unified outfit was the bone of contention. While Deuba insisted that persons nominated by him be made vice-president and general secretary, Koirala said that the vice-president and the general secretary should be senior figures than the ones suggested by Deuba.

However, both the leaders agreed that the unification of the two parties should be forged before July 22.

There is, however, consensus among the leaders on merging the party from central committees down to district and parliamentary constituency level.

Deuba has been also demanding that Prakash Man Singh and Gopal Man Shrestha be appointed as vice-chairmen while Bimalendra Nidhi be appointed as general secretary.

An NC source said that Deuba’s offer “will not be admissible.”

Meanwhile, Koirala has called a meeting of party functionaries tomorrow morning to discuss the latest developments.

Deuba and Koirala also discussed continued violence in both Tarai and hills. They took the violence as “something that can stall elections.”