Nepali Congress (NC) leader Ram Chandra Paudel has said that NC President Sher Bahadur Deuba did not heed his advice to continue the then ruling coalition.
CPN (Maoist Center) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal quit the coalition with NC and became prime minister (PM) with support of CPN-UML, Rastriya Swatantra Party, RPP, Janata Samajwadi Party (JSP), Janamat Party and Nagarik Unmukti Party after Deuba refused to make him PM first.
Deuba refused to make Dahal PM first reportedly under assurance from UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli that UML will not ally with Maoist Center and instead form a coalition government with NC if Dahal quits the coalition with NC.
But a meeting of seven parties at Oli’s residence immediately after Dahal left the meeting in Baluwatar decided to make Dahal the PM leaving the single largest party in the House of Representatives (HoR) crestfallen.
Speaking with Setopati, NC leader Paudel has revealed that he had warned Deuba to not depend on others and continue the coalition.
“I had clearly told President Deuba during the meeting at Baluwatar that we will lose everything if the coalition unravels. I had said that before Dahal left the meeting in Baluwatar,” Paudel has stated. “We should not allow the coalition to unravel. Don’t put your hopes on others, that will spoil things. I had told him that he may suffer the fate of Sushil Koirala.”
Sushil Koirala had broken the ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ to take turns with Oli as PM after promulgation of the Constitution in 2015 apparently under assurance of the southern neighbors that they would help him win the election for PM and lift the blockade they had imposed on Nepal over reservations about the Constitution.
But Oli won the PM election with support of Maoist Center and other parties and NC was deprived the post of president that was set to be given to the grand old party as part of the agreement with Oli. Bidya Devi Bhandari then became president.
Deuba and Dahal reportedly had agreed to make Paudel the president as part of the deal to first make Dahal the PM. Paudel did not explicitly accept that he would have become president if the coalition hadn’t unraveled but said NC would have obviously got the post of president if Maoists got that of PM.
“The person that NC would have put forward as presidential candidate would have won. But the post of president was not an issue for bargaining inside the coalition. Only the post of PM was the issue for bargaining.”
The anti-establishment faction of NC has already sought resignation of Deuba from both party president and parliamentary party leader but Paudel has said that the recent developments should be discussed inside the party first. “Talking outside alone won’t suffice. These issues should be discussed inside the party. Deuba may also keep his position. He may also explain how things turned out that way. He should also get the platform to say things. I have, therefore, said that these things should be discussed inside the party.”
When asked how NC will move forward after this, Paudel has vented ire on the recent campaign for handing over the reins to the younger generation. “I have always been talking about transformation of Congress but the issue of transformation was overshadowed by the unpolitical issue of change of generation.”