Kathmandu: Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda,’ who switched allegiance to Nepali Congress in a dramatic turn of events last week, breaking up two months’ old alliance with CPN-UML, has claimed that the attempts of former Prime Minister and UML chief KP Sharma Oli to justify the parliament dissolution actually triggered the decision to sever ties with the communist party and rejoin hands with Nepali Congress.
Maoist Center, which Prachanda leads as a chair, was in alliance with Nepali Congress until December 24, 2022. Congress and Maoist Center had contested the November 2022 federal parliament and provincial assembly polls as alliance partners. But in a dramatic twist, Prachanda at the last moment severed ties with Nepali Congress and joined hands with UML to form the new government two months ago.
Reputed for shifting alliance for personal and political interests, this time around, Prachanda attributed divorce with UML to Oli’s remarks in parliament on January 10, 2023, in which he had attempted to justify the move of dissolving the parliament.
When he was the PM, Oli had dissolved parliament twice in a row on December 20, 2020 and on May 21, 2021, which was reinstated by the Supreme Court verdict. The court had declared Oli’s both moves ‘unconstitutional.’
However, neither the Maoist Center nor Prachanda opposed Oli’s January 10 remarks back then.
Prachanda made this allegation on Thursday while addressing the lawmakers of eight political parties in Kathmandu. “When the parliament was dissolved unconstitutionally we all stood for constitution and democracy. We even launched street protests to reinstate the parliament. Our alliance was for democracy, protection of the constitution and to address people’s aspirations of development and prosperity,” said Prachanda, who at the moment sits upon as many as 16 ministries after Rastriya Prajatantra Party, Rastriya Swatantra Party and CPN-UML pulled out support to the government after he and his party decided to support Nepali Congress candidate Ram Chandra Paudel in the presidential election scheduled for March 9.
“We had gone astray. Now we have come to the right path. The new alliance will be further strengthened and we will move forward.”
Though overt and covert pressures from the foreign power centers are also cited as a reason in the political circle for the sudden change of mind of PM Dahal, the bone of contention between him and his erstwhile chief coalition colleague KP Oli was over whom to elect as the new head of state.
While UML insisted that since the post of PM was conceded to Maoist Center, the post of presidency should be acceded to UML. Prachanda, on the other hand, demurred. He first proposed the idea of consensus candidate and then switched to Congress candidate—Ram Chandra Paudel.
Ram Chandra Paudel from Nepali Congress and Subash Nembang from UML are vying for the presidential post, the election of which is going to take place next Thursday. Addressing the lawmakers of eight parties, Prachanda claimed that Ram Chandra Paudel has support from as many as 10 different parties.
“He [Paudel] has already won the presidential election. This is good for democracy and the constitution,” he said. Prachanda also claimed that he had made utmost efforts to bring UML chief to support the Congress candidate in the presidential election but in vain.
“I told Oli time and again that the country is in a difficult situation and you and I need to propose Nepali Congress candidate for the presidential election and then create the environment for national consensus. But he did not agree to it,” said Prachanda.