Mahara, Bhattarai poles apart on poll plan

Kathmandu, August 26:

In what seems to be a makeover step on the CPN-Maoist’s part, Minister for Information and Communications Krishna Bahadur Mahara today said that none could stop the Constituent Assembly (CA) election from taking place on the scheduled date. At the same platform, Maoist leader Baburam Bhattarai contradicted Mahara, stating that the time was not “opportune” for the CA election.

Maoist chairman Prachanda on last Friday proposed to postpone the November 22 election to April-May 2008 if the election does not ensure a “federal democratic republic.” Bhattarai sounded supporting Prachanda when he said: “The time has not been made appropriate for the CA election in November. A favourable environment would not be created until the monarchy exists.”

Minister Mahara, however, said that all should collectively counter any attempt to avert the November polls. Stating that the CA election was an opportunity to create a new Nepal, Mahara confirmed: “None should try to prevent the polls and none will be able to avert the polls. If there is any attempt as such, all should unite to counter it.” Both the Maoist leaders were speaking at an interaction programme organised by the Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ) today.

Bhattarai claimed that the CA was being used as a “weapon for conspiring against the CPN-Maoist and that is unfortunate.” “This is a parliamentary drama to give continuity to status quo. The Maoists are being surrounded and isolated,” Bhattarai said.

He also said that the “foreigners have made threatening remarks, which is dangerous as they are intended to disrupt the CA polls.”

CPN-UML leader Madhav Kumar Nepal said that the atmosphere has already been created for reforms. “No parties should create obstacles on the way to the CA. People’s hearts are won by ideology and not by threats. None can be ultra-revolutionary only by carrying guns,” said Nepal.

Speaker Subas Nembang stated that the CA polls would be held on the scheduled date.

Chief Election Commissioner Bhojraj Pokharel urged the media to put pressure on political parties to conduct the polls on time. “The media should be careful and pressurise the parties for free and fair polls on time,” Pokhrel added.

Special Representative of the UN Secretary General Ian Martin stated that the parties must stop threatening journalists. FNJ President Bishnu Nisthuri expressed concern about the interference in the press and asked the parties not to adopt double standards.