Kathmandu, December 24
Going by the utterances of top leaders of CPN-UML and CPN-Maoist Centre, unification of the two parties will be anything but a cakewalk.
The fact that everything is not hunky dory between the two parties was reflected yesterday when CPN-MC Chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal told party cadres in Nawalpur that CPN-UML had tried to form a coalition government with the support of the Federal Socialist Forum-Nepal initially but since the latter refused to be part of such government, the UML turned to the CPN-MC for the formation of a new government.
Moreover, UML leaders close to Oli are saying that unification can wait but CPN-MC leaders are of the opinion that the formation of government should take place simultaneously.
CPN-MC wants to ensure a win-win deal for both sides and not a deal that would give a lion’s share of political benefits to the UML. CPN-MC sources said they would tell UML leaders to give either the unified party’s chair or the post of prime minister to a leader from their party.
Although Dahal has publicly said Oli would become the next prime minister, Oli has not said anything about Dahal’s role in the unified party. Analysts believe that Oli has not said things about Dahal because he has not been able to win the confidence of his party leaders.
Dahal wants to deal with Oli in a package that will decide who gets key posts of president, prime minister, speaker and party chair. CPN-MC sources said though there was a gentleman’s agreement between Oli and Dahal that they would become prime minister turn by turn, but CPN-MC leaders said they feared the UML might not honour that agreement.
Dahal’s Private Secretary Jokha Bahadur Mahara said formation of the government and party unification would be settled together when both sides meet. “It is not that the government will be formed first and party unification will happen later,” he told THT.
According to him, the Party Unification Coordination Committee will meet on Wednesday and meetings will continue till government formation and party unification are settled.
UML leader Bishnu Rimal, who is close to Oli, said the government would be formed first and party unification would be dealt with later.
“Unification of two parties is a complex issue. Even making single political ideology will involve lots of work,” he said and added that aspirations of the leaders should also be addressed.
He said unification details would be dwelt on when Oli and Dahal meet.
Rimal said dealing with factions within the parties would be a tough task. CPN-MC leaders Gopal Kiranti and Bishwa Bhakta Dulal have publicly spoken against the two parties’ unification, citing ideological differences between them.
Top UML leaders Oli, Madhav Kumar Nepal, Jhalanath Khanal and Bamdev Gautam have their own factions within the party. Left alliance sources said Oli fears that Nepal, Khanal and Gautam might ally with Dahal in the unified party, posing a challenge to his leadership.
On the other hand, Dahal fears that if he is not given the mantle of the party, Oli will have unfettered powers in the party.
In a nutshell, a lot needs to be done before the two parties take firm steps in the direction of unification.
A version of this article appears in print on December 25, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.