NC not to join Maoist govt without defence portfolio

Kathmandu, August 10:

Congress accused of fuelling conflict.

Nepali Congress vice-president Gopal Man Shrestha today said the Nepali Congress would not join the Maoist-led government unless they were given the defence portfolio.

“If we are not in a position to do anything under their leadership, there is no use joining their government,” he said at an interaction organised here today.

He added that the Maoists should not shy away from giving defence portfolio to the Nepali Congress if they take the NC as their friend.

Shrestha argued that the Maoists should not be given defence portfolio as they were the ex-rebels and still running parallel government.

He said that the Nepali Congress would be content if the defence portfolio went to other coalition partners like the CPN-UML or the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum.

UML leader Bhim Rawal said the defence portfolio controversy could be settled if there were two defence ministers — one representing the CPN-Maoist and another representing the Nepali Congress.

He said his party was in favour of a Maoist-led consensus government and would not explore the alternative of non-Maoist led government.

Asked who the UML would support in case they will have to choose the Prime Minister through

voting, Rawal said, “If we have to vote, we will follow the people’s mandate.”

CPN-Maoist leader Post Bahadur Bogati accused the Nepali Congress of being totalitarian.

“The NC got defence, home and finance portfolios earlier. We are poised to lead the government, but the NC is still demanding the defence portfolio,” he said.

The Nepali Congress-led government did not implement peace pacts as it did not look into cases of disappearance and form Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

He also charged the Nepali Congress with pushing the country towards another conflict but clarified that the Maoist would not wage people’s war again. We would unite people for a peaceful revolution if need be, he said.

Janamorcha Nepal acting president Lila Mani Pokharel said the NC and UML’s demand for replacement of two-thirds majority with a simple majority to form or oust a government and Maoists arrogance were the root causes of present deadlock.

Warning the big parties not to give undue importance to power, he urged all to focus on constitution drafting, provide relief to commoners and take the peace process to its logical conclusion.

He said any attempt to sideline the Maoists could fuel fresh conflict.