Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, January 21:

Amidst intense criticism from political parties, a senior minister today said that the prime minister has initiated efforts to take all parties into confidence for holding elections. Brushing aside criticism from CPN-UML leader, Jhalanath Khanal, that the government’s efforts on organising polls was like “blind people trying to identify an elephant”, minister for agriculture and cooperatives, Hom Nath Dahal, said the government was committed to establishing a fresh parliament.

Stressing the 43-point common minimum programme agreed upon by the four coalition partners and justifying the need of elections, Dahal said only a new parliament can resolve the crises in the country. “There is no alternative to holding elections,” he said at an interaction at the Reporters’ Club here. He, however, said: “Going to the polls does not mean that the government will close the door for talks with the Maoists.” Dahal assured that the government was committed to provide security and bring in international monitoring mechanism to assure free and fair elections.

Khanal had raised apprehensions over the government’s efforts on organising polls. “I see no efforts that have been made by the government. Besides, the environment is unfavourable for polls,” he said. He also criticised the government for failing to initiate efforts to resolve the Maoist crisis, which, according to him, needed a political solution. Khanal laid emphasis on a consensus among all political forces and said that even his party (UML) is still undecided on whether to go for the polls at a time when the security situation in the country is adverse. He said that whatever prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba has been saying in public on the issue of holding elections was his private stand. Earlier, Nepali Congress (NC) leader Sujata Koirala labelled the government’s efforts on holding elections a ploy to lengthen its tenure.

She also said the Royal Nepalese Amry (RNA) is more “dangerous” than the Maoists and warned that her party will be compelled to decide on a republican set up in its upcoming convention if the King tried to lead the country towards militarisation. Leela Mani Pokherel of the Janamorcha Nepal said that holding elections would mean leading the country towards a disaster. “This is a mere conspiracy to legitimise regression,” Pokherel said.

Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) leader Dhruba Bahadur Pradhan, however, said polls could lead the country out of the crises. Nepal Sadbhawana Party (NSP) leader Rameswor Ray said organising elections is the best alternative. Earlier, Leela Mani Pokherel walked out of the programme soon after minister Homnath Dahal arrived as part of their programme to boycott programmes attended by ministers.