Nepal Maoists not to form new government

July 22nd, 2008 - 4:25 pm ICT by IANS  

By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, July 22 (IANS) Nepal’s historic first presidential election has opened a pandora’s box with the defeated Maoist party Tuesday announcing that they would not form the new government but sit in opposition. In yet another twist to Nepal’s political drama, the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (MJF), the debutant party from the Terai plains that emerged as a kingmaker, said they would stake claim to forming a coalition government backed by Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala’s Nepali Congress and the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (UML).

“Since the Nepali Congress, UML and MJF formed an alliance for the presidential election and showed they have majority in the constituent assembly, our party has decided it does not have the moral right to form the new government,” Maoist lawmaker Janardan Sharma, who is also a deputy commander of the Maoists’ guerrilla People’s Liberation Army, told IANS.

The decision was taken by the central committee of the party that called an emergency meeting Tuesday to discuss the party’s future strategy in the wake of the presidential election debacle that saw its candidate, 73-year-old former revolutionary Ram Raja Prasad Singh, lose twice to his rival Ram Baran Yadav, who was supported by the Nepali Congress and its new allies.

The decision by the former guerrillas will delay the formation of the new government even further and plunge the nation into deeper instability with the striking up of the new alliances.

The presidential poll, which needed a run-off after the first election, failed to garner simple majority for all the contenders, saw the Maoists first strike up an alliance with the UML, then discard it to woo the MJF and other Terai parties.

But at the end, the UML joined forces with Koirala while the MJF joined the new alliance but its two other Terai partners decided to stand behind the Maoists.

After a series of rapid turn-arounds, the MJF is now laying claim to the post of prime minister.

“We have 52 members in the assembly, which proved to be a decisive number, as the presidential poll showed,” said Bijay Kumar Gachchedar, chief of the MJF’s parliamentary party.

“You don’t have to have majority to lead a coalition government. In India, H.D. Deve Gowda showed that.”

According to Gachchedar, his party reached an understanding with Koirala and the UML on the eve of the presidential poll. As per the pact, the trio decided to back Ram Baran Yadav as president, the UML candidate as chairman of the constituent assembly when the election is held Thursday, and the MJF nominee as prime minister.

Following the Maoist decision not to lay claim to the new government, the three new allies have begun consultations to reach an understanding in power-sharing.

If the alliance holds, Gachchhedar could be the new prime minister of Nepal, stepping into Koirala’s shoes.

Asked who would the MJF propose as the next premier, his answer was: “An indigenous community member”.

Gachchhedar comes from the Tharu community, who were the original inhabitants of the Terai plains but were displaced by migrants from India and Nepal’s hilly regions and reduced to landless bonded slaves.

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