The CPN-Maoist has broken the ice by dropping its claim to the post of president, but it has said that the posts of president and vice president should go to ‘respected’ and ‘independent’ persons outside the political parties. If the other parties agreed to this idea, C P Gajurel, a senior CPN-Maoist leader has said, the Maoists were also ready to take a ‘flexible’ approach to the issue of two-thirds v simple majority required to elect or remove a prime minister. Gajurel, however, added that the problem of power sharing should be resolved under a ‘package deal’. This is a major shift in the Maoists’ stance that holds out a strong possibility of breaking the deadlock over government formation. This may well meet the key demands of the other parties, particularly the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML, except the Maoist condition of non-party candidacy. The NC and the CPN-UML have been insisting that the Maoists can take the post of executive prime minister, but another party should get the presidency.

This conditional sacrifice of its earlier stands will put the CPN-Maoist in an advantageous position — morally, politically and in the eye of the public — in power sharing negotiations. Though the Maoists will have to go without the presidency, their new proposal, if agreed upon, will address its major concern — that the top two posts should not be held by two different political parties because, according to them, it will create two power centres, leading to conflicts and obstacles to governance and constitution making. The Maoist offer can be expected to appear attractive, at least, to some of the non-Maoist parties, because it holds out the promise of fulfilling their two key demands — the Maoists should not hold both posts and the provision of two-thirds requirement should be amended. The other parties’ official comments are yet to come, but particularly important will be the Congress response, because it — and its president and Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala — is reported to have been claiming the position of head of state.

The refusal of the Maoist offer might be publicly seen in an unfavourable light, because it would strengthen the impression that their political tussle might not have been over the principles of good governance but over individual and partisan interests. However, it is hoped that the other parties will see the basis for consensus inherent in the Maoist offer. The present compulsion of both sides is that neither is in a position to form a government on its

own. Consensual politics is therefore necessary to steer the final phase of political transition smoothly. The parties should no longer hold the country hostage to their narrow considerations of loss and gain. It is already about two months since the CA polls were held, and one month since the full and final results were announced. Two CA meetings have already taken place, and the political parties are still haggling over the loaves and fishes of office. By now at least, a new Prime Minister should have been named. Nowhere in the world under parliamentary democracy does a government elected by the previous parliament continue to rule after a new parliament has taken charge.