Oli-Dahal meeting fruitless

Kathmandu, February 17

CPN-UML Chairman and Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and CPN-Maoist Centre Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal today called a meeting of the Party Unification Coordination Committee to resolve issues related to unification of the two parties and the CPN-MC’s participation in the government.

A one-on-one meeting between Oli and Dahal today ended fruitlessly as both stuck to their respective stances. Dahal said his party would not join the government until a ‘package deal’ was reached, according to Dahal’s Secretariat.

Sources said Oli requested Dahal to join the government, but Dahal said the matter should be part of a ‘package deal’. Oli had also requested Dahal on Thursday to send two CPN-MC lawmakers to the Cabinet, but Dahal turned down his request.

“The talks have not progressed since Wednesday,” Dahal’s Personal Secretary Jokha Bahadur Mahara told The Himlayan Times. “Discussions are under way, but there’s no concrete outcome,” he said, adding it was not sure whether PUCC would meet tomorrow.

According to sources, Dahal told PM Oli that major issues, such as sharing of key posts — namely those of president, vice-president, prime minister, speaker and deputy speaker, Cabinet portfolios, major political appointments, and top posts of the unified party should be worked out as a package deal. However, PM Oli has not yet given a concrete reply to Dahal. He said the issue should be sorted out in the PUCC meeting. On the other hand, the PM is not willing to expand his Cabinet without the CPN-MC’s participation, as he needs to win the vote of confidence in the House of Representatives within a month after his appointment to the country’s top executive post, according to sources.

Dahal had planned to assign Ram Bahadur Thapa to lead the party in Oli’s Cabinet if today’s meeting had concluded positively. Although there are several aspirants within the CPN-MC, Thapa is Dahal’s first choice.

“The left alliance government will take full shape as per the people’s mandate, there’s no alternative,” senior CPN-MC leader Narayan Kaji Shrestha told THT. “The party unity process is making progress.”

The unified party’s ideology and sharing of key posts are the major contentious  issues, according to left leaders.

While UML leaders say that ‘People’s Multi-party Democracy’ should be the new party’s guiding principle, the CPN-MC is of the view that the next general convention should discuss the ideological issue.