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Left unification looks challenging

By Our Reporter
When the CPN-UML and the CPN-Maoist Centre in the middle of the Dashain in October last year made their surprise decision to forge electoral alliance they had also said that the two communist parties would be unified immediately after the elections. However, even about a month after the elections, the two parties have not made any progress towards the party unification. Instead, the UML leaders have been making expressions which go against the spirit of the party unification.
When UML general secretary Ishwor Pokharel said that the party chairman, parliamentary party leader and the prime minister should be the same person, it shocked the Maoist leaders.
Similarly, CPN-Maoist Centre chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal revealed that the UML tried to form a government seeking support from Upendra Yadav-led Federal Socialist Forum-Nepal in order to avoid his party. These conflicting views bred several speculations about the unification of the two communist parties. Moreover, Dahal spent several days outside the valley, which further fueled such speculations.
These evidences showed that everything is not well with the two parties.
CPN-MC chair  Dahal last week told party cadres in Nawalpur that CPN-UML had tried to form a coalition government with the support of the Federal Socialist Forum-Nepal initially but since the latter refused to be part of such government, the UML turned to the CPN-MC for the formation of a new government.
Moreover, UML leaders close to Oli are saying that unification can wait but CPN-MC leaders are of the opinion that the formation of government should take place simultaneously.
CPN-MC wants to ensure a win-win deal for both sides and not a deal that would give a lion’s share of political benefits to the UML. CPN-MC sources said they would tell UML leaders to give either the unified party’s chair or the post of prime minister to a leader from their party.
Although Dahal has publicly said Oli would become the next prime minister, Oli has not said anything about Dahal’s role in the unified new party. Analysts believe that Oli has not said things about Dahal because he had won the confidence of his party leaders like Pokharel.
Dahal wants to deal with Oli in a package that will decide who gets key posts of president, prime minister, speaker and party chair. CPN-MC leaders said there was a gentleman’s agreement between Oli and Dahal that they would become prime minister turn by turn. But CPN-MC leaders said they feared the UML might not honour that agreement.
Moreover, the two parties will find it difficult to manage senior leaders including two former prime ministers of the UML, Madhav Kumar Nepal and Jhalanath Khanal. Although one of  them can be elected president, Oli wants Bidya Bhandari to continue in the office of the president.
Three other leaders of the second ranked can be adjusted in the posts of vice president, speaker and deputy speaker. But there are dozens of senior leaders once the two parties are unified.
Although Bam Dev Gautam of UML and Narayan Kaji Shrestha of the CPN-Maoist Centre lost the elections, there is a challenge to adjust Ram Bahadur Thapa and Amik Sherchan who were not given the election tickets. Likewise, Krishna Bahadur Mahara, Barshaman Pun, Ishwor Pokharel, Bishnu Poudel, Bhim Rawal, Prdeep Poudel, Pampha Bhusal, Top Bahadur Rayamajhi and several other leaders should be managed. One of them can lead the government from the Maoist side, but others cannot get any posts. Therefore, these senior leaders are likely to pose challenge to the unification of the two parties.
Even the leaders are divided as to which—unification or government formation should be first with the UML leaders giving preference to the government.

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