Uncertainty clouds left alliance unification talks

  • The left alliance could form the government before unification

Kathmandu, January 4

Second-rung leaders of the CPN-UML close to Chairman KP Sharma Oli are of the opinion that CPN-Maoist Centre Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal should not become chief of the unified party. It is learnt that they have told Oli that Dahal could chair the unified party if the general convention of the unified party, to be held after a year of unification, elects him to the post.

Earlier, UML General Secretary Ishwor Pokharel had kicked up a row by stating publicly that Oli would head the new government, as well as the unified party.

Talks on party unification and government formation between Oli and Dahal have been stalled for the past few days due to Oli’s poor health, with resumption of talks still uncertain.

Sources said adverse public utterances had vitiated the environment for talks between the top leaders. “All those speeches are for public consumption and are a result of miscommunication between Oli and Dahal. If they have no differences, why have the talks been stalled?”

Even the second-rung left alliance leaders, who are demanding ‘respectable role’ after the unification, have not held talks on merger for the past week. “It seems unification will take some time. The left alliance could form the government before that,” said a source.

Dahal’s secretariat states that the two leaders cannot meet due to Oli’s poor health, while Oli’s secretariat claims that the meeting cannot take place due to Dahal’s busy schedule. Addressing an event in Chitwan today, Dahal reiterated that the meeting could not happen due to Oli’s poor health.

Dahal left for Chitwan to inaugurate the first assembly of Bharatpur Metropolitan City today. He is scheduled to return to Kathmandu on Saturday.

According to Dahal’s Personal Secretary Jokha Bahadur Mahara, the two leaders will meet after Dahal returns from Chitwan.

UML leader and Oli's close political aide Bishnu Rimal said the two top leaders had not revealed anything about their talks to any of the leaders. “There are lots of rumours in the air,” he said, adding that the two leaders would meet either on Saturday or Sunday.

The two leaders had planned to meet today, but could not do so due to an all-party meeting called by Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and Dahal’s visit to Chitwan.

“The two leaders had planned to go out of Kathmandu Valley for two days to discuss key issues, but the plan did not materialise after Oli’s health deteriorated,” Rimal told THT. “The two leaders will iron out differences on key issues and hold a meeting of the left alliance to inform leaders about the development. After that, the meeting of the Party Unification Coordination Committee will be held.”

According to a left alliance leader, some second-rung CPN-MC leaders are meeting Oli and lobbying for ministerial responsibility in the new government.