Kathmandu, August 29:

The talks between Nepali Congress President Girija Prasad Koirala and NC (D) President Sher Bahadur Deuba ended today by referring the unification issue to the task forces once again.

The development came as a setback to the talks that appeared to be heading towards imminent unification with both the leaders coming under pressure from friendly international forces and their respective parties. Today’s round was initially expected to mark a possible happy ending to a series of talks for unification given the level of seriousness shown and hype generated by both the leaders in their last meeting.

In the last meeting held on Monday, Deuba was offered a package whereby he was expected to give up any claim on the post of general secretary for his party leader in the unified outfit while he enjoyed a prime place as one of the three top leaders.

However Deuba refused to accept Koirala’s offer following consultation among NC (D) leaders. Other issues which the task forces will be left to take up next are how to go about unifying the district-level units of the party. Since they could not agree with each other today, they once again referred the issue to the task forces of the two parties which will suggest areas of concurrence. While NC task force is in favour of unifying at the centre and sending a mission to the districts, this is not agreeable to NC(D).

“We have a week to finish this unification agenda. That will leave only 21 days to pick candidates. Which is to say that it must be settled within the next seven days at the most,” said NC leader Laxman Ghimire. He added that the leaders did not make much headway today.

The issue of unification is expected to figure in the Central Committee meeting of the parties tomorrow. A section of the NC central leadership met today to “fine tune the agenda concerning unification and other issues.” NC (D) has called a meeting of the parliamentary party that will be attended by central members as well. NC (D) leadership was engaged in meeting late into night.