Faced by party rift, Prachanda appeals for unity

Nepal Maoist chief Prachanda, who has been slammed by party dissidents for abandoning "communist ideals", tried to reach out to the rebels, expressing readiness to discuss the issues of contention.

Kathmandu: Nepal Maoist chief Prachanda, who has been slammed by party dissidents for abandoning "communist ideals", tried to reach out to the rebels on Wednesday, expressing readiness to discuss the issues of contention.

Prachanda appealed to the disgruntled faction led by Vice President Mohan Vaidya `Kiran` to work for party unity and try to resolve the differences.

"We can always discuss our differences within the party," said the Maoist supremo, in an attempt to bridge the void that has been increasing between the moderate Prachanda-led faction and the more radical group led by Vaidya.

Earlier this month, the dissident faction led by Vaidya and general secretary Ram Bahadur Thapa demanded the resignation of Prachanda, accusing him and Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai of going astray from "communist ideals".

The Maoist Central Committee members loyal to Vaidya even held a meeting and discussed the proposal to form a new party to preserve the "communist ideals".

The schism has widened between the two groups as the dissident faction has been alleging that the Prachanda- Bhattarai duo were deviating from the party line and toeing to the status-quo forces.

Vaidya has also blamed Bhattarai for the failure to draft the Constitution within the May 27 deadline and joined a chorus with the opposition seeking the formation of a national consensus government.

Meanwhile, Bhattarai today apologised to the people for his government`s failure to promulgate the constitution within the Constituent Assembly`s term that expired on May 27.

Addressing his first public meeting after the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly, Bhattarai said he felt terribly sad over the statute-making body`s failure to complete the constitution drafting task even after four years of efforts.

The opposition Nepali Congress and CPN-UML have been asking Bhattarai to resign for dissolving the Constituent Assembly and announcing fresh elections "unilaterally", in what they have said was an unconstitutional manner.
The premier, however, has justified his move to announce fresh elections, saying there was no alternative as the Constituent Assembly (CA) had been dissolved.

He also appreciated President Ram Baran Yadav for handling the state affairs tactfully despite the pressure exerted by the opposition to sack the caretaker Prime Minister.

He also urged all sections to work hand in hand to forge consensus in national politics and asked the dissident group of his party to work in unison with the establishment.

Bhattarai said he is ready to quit power if it saves the Maoist party from being split and serves the interests of the people at large.

Prachanda also said his party would not compromise on the issue of federating the country on the basis of ethnic identity, which was opposed by opposition Nepali Congress and CPN-UML.