Damaru Lal Bhandari
Kathmandu, January 29:
Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba is raring to announce polls, but his endless wait for a consensus of all coalition partners is causing delay in the actual announcement and has consequently thrown up questions which raise doubts whether poll is possible.
While Prime Minister Deuba is parroting his preference for election, CPN-UML General Secretary Madhav Kumar Nepal has gone on record to say, â€œDeuba has not taken up the issue with the coalition partners formally.â€ Nepal said this in an interview with the Britist Broadcast Corp radio last Wednesday. Sources claim Nepal seems to have a point there. Prime Minister Deuba has been doing loud thinking on the issue of an early announcement of election, but sources say he has not raised the issue in a formal manner during the cabinet meeting.
Minister of Information and Communication Dr Mohammed Mohsin, who is a devout upholder of the royal agenda, said the government was waiting for coalition partners to come to a decision soon. Meanwhile, Deubaâ€™s claims appear half-baked in the light of reactions from the army which says it has not received any formal communication from the PMO about elections, informal meetings with top brass notwithstanding.
Nepali Congress (Democratic) senior leader Dr Narayan Khadka attributed the panic to the pressures of Deubaâ€™s job and the need to obey the mandate for holding elections or restoring peace. â€œOf course, he could be saying so on the basis of international support for elections as well,â€ Dr Khadka said, expecting some turnaround on the issue very soon with coalition partners evolving a formula to revive the peace process.
Deuba, however, is feeling the heat, with even his own minister Dr Mohsin expressing disgust at the elusive polling schedule. â€œWe are waiting for the parties to discuss and decide,â€ Dr Mohsin told The Himalayan Times. He conceded that the government had failed to announce polls last Thursday. The Election Commission (EC) stand that it can hold election if given six monthsâ€™ time is also adding to the pressure on Deuba, just as reactions from the army brass.
Sources says that like in case of the army brass, Deub has not yet discussed the issue with the EC formally. Sources also say that Deuba is merely trying to put pressure on the CPN-UML by citing his meetings with UN diplomats who have reportedly spoken in favour of elections as a part of the crisis resolution.
Meanwhile, Minister of Agriculture and Cooperative Hom Nath Dahal, who is a strong supporter of Deuba on the issue of holding elections, claimed that while there was no ambiguity over the issue, the only problem was coalition partners taking so long to agree to it. â€œDiscussions are going on, and a decision is expected soon,â€ Dahal, who is considered as an influential minister, said.