Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba has intensified efforts to iron out differences with ruling coalition partners - CPN-Maoist Centre and CPN (Unified Socialist) - on the Millennium Challenge Corporation deal signed with the United States of America, but differences continue to persist between coalition partners.

The PM discussed parliamentary ratification of the MCC deal with the CPN-MC Chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal and CPN (Unified Socialist) Chair Madhav Kumar Nepal twice today, but the leftist leaders told Deuba that the MCC deal could be ratified by the Parliament only after some amendments are made to it. The US has, however, ruled out the possibility of amending the deal at this stage.

According to Dahal's personal aide Ramesh Malla, the CPN- MC Chair said the ruling coalition would remain intact. Since differences persist between parties, they should continue to hold talks, he added.

Meanwhile, addressing a gathering organised by his party's student wing here today, Nepal said despite opponents' attempt to break the alliance over the MCC deal, the ruling alliance would not fall apart. Nepal said he, Dahal, and Deuba held a discussion on the MCC today and his impression was that the alliance would remain intact till the upcoming elections.

Left parties have been saying that the MCC deal undermines the country's sovereignty.

Spokesperson for the CPN (Unified Socialist) Jagannath Khatiwada said Deuba wanted the ruling coalition to secure parliamentary ratification of the MCC deal but he did not want to break the coalition just because coalition partners had differing views on the MCC deal. He said partners of the ruling alliance wanted more time to study the deal, as there were multiple supplementary agreements.

Khatiwada said his party was of the view that the MCC deal that had attracted the attention of the entire nation should not be ratified on the eve of elections.

"If a party that comes to power after the election passes the MCC deal, that will be fine," Khatiwada said.

CPN-UML leader Pradip Kumar Gyawali said CPN (Unified Socialist) leader Jhalanath Khanal's recent statement that the UML government kept some parts of the MCC deal under wraps was false. Gyawali said sovereign lawmakers should have the right to take an independent call on the MCC deal.

He said the speaker had erred by putting the MCC deal on hold.

"The ruling alliance itself is not clear on the MCC deal and it has no right to accuse others of indecision on the MCC ratification. It is a grant assistance project and it should not be made a geopolitical issue," Gyawali added.

He accused the CPN-MC of double standards, as the deal was signed when CPN-MC was a ruling coalition partner. Gyawali also said that some forces were seeking advice of foreign countries on the deal. He, however, did not name them.

"While discussing MCC issues with the US - another signatory of the deal - is natural, seeking advice from other foreign countries on the deal is wrong," Gyawali added.

Under the MCC deal, the US has pledged to provide $500 million to fund infrastructure projects in Nepal.

A version of this article appears in the print on February 3, 2022, of The Himalayan Times.