UML-Maoist uni­fi­ca­tion still un­cer­tain

People's Review - - FRONT PAGE - By Our Re­porter

The grow­ing rift be­tween the two rul­ing com­mu­nist par­ties—CPN-UML and the CPN-Maoist Cen­tre has cul­mi­nated in the post­pone­ment of their lon­gawaited uni­fi­ca­tion process. Ac­cord­ing to the Na­garik daily and the An­na­purna Post, the two par­ties have post­poned the meet­ings re­lat­ing to their uni­fi­ca­tion. Be­fore In­dian Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi’s Nepal visit, the two par­ties had stated to con­clude the uni­fi­ca­tion process af­ter Modi’s visit. How­ever, the rift be­tween the two par­ties widened dur­ing Modi’s visit, es­pe­cially when the En­ergy Min­is­ter Bar­sha Man Pun was by­passed while sign­ing agree­ment and in­au­gu­rat­ing the Arun III project. The Maoist Cen­tre ob­jected to not in­clude the En­ergy Min­istry in the cer­e­mony. This ul­ti­mately re­sulted in the boy­cott of the civic re­cep­tion of the In­dian Prime Min­is­ter in Kath­mandu by the Maoist Min­is­ters. Even in the par­lia­ment, Maoist spokesper­son Pam­pha Bhushal ob­jected to the Arun III agree­ment and de­manded that the agree­ment should be en­dorsed by a two-thirds ma­jor­ity in the par­lia­ment. On Mon­day’s meet­ing, the Maoist law­mak­ers raised ques­tions about the Arun III project, en­try of the In­dian com­man­dos to Nepal dur­ing Modi’s visit and the con­tro­ver­sial re­marks of chief min­is­ter Lal­babu Raut of Prov­ince 2 while the UML law­mak­ers raised ques­tion about com­pe­tency of Home Min­is­ter Ram Ba­hadur Thapa. Even Prime Min­is­ter K P Oli and Maoist boss Pushpa Ka­mal Da­hal have not hold meet­ings for days, which sig­nal that all is not well with the uni­fi­ca­tion process. The crux of the dif­fer­ence be­tween the two par­ties was the de­lib­er­ate omis­sion of En­ergy, Wa­ter Re­sources and Ir­ri­ga­tion Min­is­ter Pun, who be­longs to the CPN-Maoist Cen­tre and re­garded to be a pow­er­ful leader of the party, dur­ing the cer­e­mony or­gan­ised to re­motely lay the foun­da­tion stone of the 900MW Arun III Hy­dropower Project. The mega hy­dro project was jointly in­au­gu­rated by Prime Min­is­ter KP Sharma Oli and Modi. Ob­vi­ously, Pun was not happy with the man­ner in which the Oli-led In­vest­ment Board Nepal was al­lowed to grant gen­er­a­tion li­cense to Arun III project, by­pass­ing the De­part­ment of Elec­tric­ity De­vel­op­ment, which is the au­tho­rised agency to grant such per­mits.

Maoist lead­ers are also not happy about the Cab­i­net’s de­ci­sion to seek clar­i­fi­ca­tion from Nepal Tele­com Manag­ing Di­rec­tor Kamini Ra­jb­han­dari, who was ap­pointed on the rec­om­men­da­tion of the CPNMC. Ra­jb­han­dari was asked to clar­ify why she should not be re­moved from the top post of the state-owned en­ter­prise. If the rift be­tween the two par­ties widens fur­ther, there is a risk the present gov­ern­ment may col­lapse on any day if the Maoist Cen­tre with­draws its min­is­ters from the gov­ern­ment. How­ever, Maoist leader Da­hal may not go to the ex­tent of pulling down the gov­ern­ment as the UML had saved his party in the elec­tions. How­ever, if the uni­fi­ca­tion process comes to a com­plete halt, Da­hal may soon take a de­ci­sion to teach a les­son to PM Oli by with­draw­ing his sup­port, be­cause af­ter the fall of the Oli-led gov­ern­ment, Da­hal will be the sole prime min­is­te­rial can­di­date in the sup­port of the Nepali Congress and the Mad­hes-based par­ties.

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