Laxmi Capital News
Will left parties merge before new govt

Chances of theplanned merger between the CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Center) concluding beforethe formation of the new government look slim as Nepal's two main left partiesstruggle to find a middle point to end the deadlock over the leadership andorganization of the new party. 

After theirresounding victory in the parliamentary and provincial elections, UML andMaoist Center had announced to strike a deal on the much-hyped merger beforethe formation of the new government.  

But leaders fromboth parties are now giving up hopes for the merger ahead of the governmentformation with interlocutors failing to break the ice on a long list of thornyissues including chairmanship of the new party.

The process of theformation of the new government is expected to start after the conclusion ofthe national assembly polls planned for February 7. 

While the MaoistCenter has insisted that there should be at least 'a framework agreement' onthe planned unity, UML appears to be in the mood to resume negotiation on themerger only after resolving differences over other contentious issues includingthe sharing of power in the provincial governments. Negotiators from the twoparties are currently working on giving the final touch to the power-sharingdeal for six provinces where the left is expected to form the government. 

Despite rounds offormal and informal negotiation at various levels, the two parties still appearpoles apart on leadership, organization and ideology of the merged entity.

Leaders said thatthe biggest contention is over the leadership of the new party and other keyportfolios. 

Maoist CenterChairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, who has publicly staked claim to the premiership,has said that Oli should also be ready to rotate the party chairmanship. UMLleadership, though positive about rotating the government leadership, has putforth party chairmanship as a non-negotiable issue. 

According toleaders involved in the negotiation, UML leaders have offered to create aspecial portfolio for Dahal which would be the second highest position in theparty structure.  Dahal has rejected the idea, according to three leadersof his party.  Maoist Center leader Mahendra Bahadur Shahi on Saturdaysaid that there would be no merger if Oli refuses to rotate party chairmanshipwith Dahal. 

Besidesleadership, the two parties also face some challenge to manage the second rungleaders. In absence of a clear second-in-command, several leaders in bothparties have long been projecting themselves as the potential leader. Theparties seek to seal a deal on organization with 60:40 spilled in theorganization from the lower committee to the higher order. 

With both sidesexpressing readiness to give space to the philosophy of Maoism and Marxism, thetwo parties are expected to face little disputes over the ideology of themerged entity. 

With the self-imposed deadline for the mergerlooming closer, Maoist leaders are stressing the need for finalizing the issuesof merger and power-sharing simultaneously. 
Talking to reporters at an interaction in Chitwan on Saturday, Maoist CenterChairman Dahal reiterated that the unification should take place before theformation of the new government. 

"Completing the unification processbefore the government formation would be in line with the spirit of the publicmandate and our joint manifesto," said Dahal. 
Maoists' desperation to strike a deal on unification before the formation ofthe new government is understandable as many in the party think that the talkson the merger after the formation of the new government would reduce the formerrebel party's bargaining power. 

Many in UML thinkthat it will be easier to press the Maoists to agree to the terms andconditions of party unification once there is an agreement on governmentformation. The Maoist Center won't be able to break the alliance at least fortwo years once the new government sees daylight. 

A UML standingcommittee member close to Oli said that the party is not in a mood to share theleadership of the unified party. 

"It won'thappen. Even our chairman agrees to this as the entire party rank and file isagainst it. It would be a political suicide if Oli agrees to rotate the partychairmanship between him and Dahal," said the leader.

Source:My Republica, 28th January 2018

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