NC pressuring PM to declare civic elections

Kathmandu, January 26

Nepali Congress leaders have mounted pressure on Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal to announce local polls so that it will have a chance to lead the government after the local polls as per the gentlemen’s agreement.

Senior  NC leader Gopal Man Shrestha said that his party had been  asking the government to announce  election schedules immediately as per the recent understandingbetween the three big  parties — the NC, the CPN-UML and CPN-Maoist Centre.

“We want elections to be held immediately to implement and save the constitution,” he added.

NC leaders claim that there was a gentlemen’s agreement between the NC and the CPN-Maoist Centre that the CPN-MC would lead the government till the local elections and the NC would take the mantle of the government after the local polls.

In a recent meeting with United Democratic Madhesi Front leaders where NC leaders were also present, PM Dahal assured the Madhesi leaders that he would declare election date only after taking all sides, particularly the UDMF on board.

Shrestha said holding elections and sharing  power were two different things and PM Dahal needed  to transfer power to NC President Sher Bahadur Deuba even if the Dahal government could not hold elections before mid- April.

NC leader Shrestha said that the NC and CPN-MC had agreed to hold local elections before mid-April and his party could wait for two more weeks if the elections were pushed further by two more weeks. “Even if this government fails to hold elections by the agreed time frame, it should hand over power to the NC,” Shrestha said.

He said the ruling parties would try their best to pass the constitution amendment bill even after the announcement of the polls date and Madhesi parties wuld have to accept the House’s decision whatever the outcome.

CPN-MC leader Mani Thapa said that NC leaders had been pressuring the government to announce election dates. “NC leaders, including Deuba,  fear that the PM could extend his tenure on thr pretext of forging consensus with the stakeholders,” said Thapa.

He said the PM was under intense pressure from both Madhesi parties and the NC. The Madhesi parties are telling the PM not to announce poll dates before passage of the constitution amendment bill and the NC leaders are demanding that the poll dates be announced soon, said Thapa.

Even the CPN-UML, the main opposition party has been pressuring the government to declare election dates.

“The prime minister is of the view that elections would be meaningless if all stakeholders, particularly the Madhesi parties, did not take part in elections,” said Thapa.

He said that the PM had been trying his best to convince Madhesi parties that he took the risk of tabling the constitution amendment bill despite criticism and pressure from opposition parties.

Meanwhile, NC leader Shekhar Koirala said pressuring the government to announce election date was pointless before conducive environment for election was prepared. He said that election cannot be held unless all stakeholders are prepared for it.

“We should not forget history. The Girija Prasad Koirala-led government postponed election twice and  Sher Bahadur Deuba-led government  also could not hold elections,” he said, adding that the NC should not pressurise the government to announce election date.