KATHMANDU: The CPN-UML, the third largest political force in the Constituent Assembly, today decided not to join the Baburam Bhattarai-led government until the contentious issues of the constitution were settled on a consensus basis.
But the party’s central committee meeting, which concluded today, decided that the party would play a constructive role in concluding the peace and constitution-drafting processes.
A standing committee meeting, held in the middle of the ongoing central committee meeting, however, owned the five-point deal reached among the four major political forces – Unified CPN-Maoist, Nepali Congress, CPN-UML and United Democratic Madhesi Front – on May 3, which, many believed, helped create a culture of consensual politics.
UML Chairman Jhala Nath Khanal had signed the five-point agreement on behalf of the party and senior UML leader and former PM Madhav Kumar Nepal was one of the four architects of the deal.
The UML decided to stay out of the Bhattarai-led government, which was dubbed as the national consensus one even though it was formed under Article 38 (b) of the Interim constitution, accusing PM Bhattarai of “playing foul by restructuring some ministries and allocating ministerial portfolios to the Madhesi front without consulting the party”. A Cabinet meeting, held yesterday immediately after the swearing in of the newly- appointed ministers, decided to bifurcate the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, create two new ministries – Ministry of Poverty Alleviation and Ministry of Urban Development – and merged the existing Ministry of Federal Affairs, Constituent Assembly, Parliamentary Affairs and Culture with the Ministry of Local Development.
Even though the UML CC meet chose to stay away from the Bhattarai-led government, the standing committee meeting concluded that the five-point deal “opened the door” for moving towards national consensus on issues of peace and constitution.
A UML CC member said today’s CC decision created a “win-win situation” for both the CC members who were opposed to the five-point deal and the UML leaders who were engaged in negotiations.
The standing committee has been entrusted with holding dialogue with other political stakeholders on the disputed issues of the constitution, which need to be settled by tomorrow as per the earlier understanding reached at the CA Business Advisory Committee. It prompted the UML leadership to stay away from the Bhattarai-led government after most of the central committee members questioned the rationale behind joining the Bhattarai-led government.