Nepali Congress steps up effort to form govt amid pol deadlock



Kathmandu: Nepal's second largest party, Nepali Congress, on Thursday stepped up efforts to head a coalition government after the key decision was formally approved by the party leadership, though it failed to agree on a prime ministerial candidate.

Central Working Committee of the Nepali Congress in principle decided to form a government under the party's leadership, Bimalendra Nidhi, the party's general secretary said here today.

He, however, said that it is yet to decide as to who will lead the government.

The Nepali Congress has argued that it is now their turn to lead a government after the Maoists and the CPN-UML failed to conclude the peace process and frame a new constitution by the stipulated deadline of May 28.

The party decided to initiate dialogue with other political parties in order to garner their support for setting up a new government.

As the largest party UCPN-Maoist and third largest CPN-UML have already formed governments one after another over the last two years, Nepali Congress should get the leadership of the next government, the senior leader said.

Nepalese lawmakers will elect a new Prime Minister on July 21 following a direction by President Ram Baran Yadav to form a majority government after they failed to reach a consensus on a leader.

The Nepal Maoists, who ended their decade-long civil war in 2006, have claimed the leadership of new government as it is largest party in parliament with nearly 40 percent of the seats.

The party's Prime Ministerial hopeful Jhal Nath Khanal today held talk with Nepali Congress Parliamentary Party leader, Ramchandra Poudyal, to discuss issues relating to formation of a government and peace process, CPN-UML sources said.

After the end the second deadline set by the president to form a consensus government by July 12, political parties are now engaged in hectic consultations to form a majority government.

However, a national government is still possible if the key political players, including the Maoists, can be accommodated in the new ministry, according to analysts.

The key alliance partners in the caretaker government, Nepali Congress and CPN-UML, have ruled out the possibility of forming the next government under the Maoists' leadership as the former rebels have not yet laid down arms, managed their combatants and dissolved their paramilitary organization the Young Communist League.

The three major parties -- main Opposition UCPN-Maoist, the Nepali Congress and the Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist Leninist), the two partners in the ruling alliance, have failed to find a common ground to set up a coalition.

Meanwhile, Home Minister Bhim Rawal today met Maoist chief Prachand and discussed ways to improve the worsening security situation in the country, sources said.

The Maoists, who waged a decade-long insurgency, joined mainstream politics after the 2006 peace deal with the interim government led by G. P. Koirala. Led by its superemo Prachanda, the Maoists formed a government in 2008, but it collapsed in May last year after a dispute with the President over their attempt to fire the army chief.

PTI