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In the name of peace and constitution

Thursday, August 16th, 2012

Pushpa Kamal Dahal has once again shown why he is considered the most powerful man in Nepali politics. After the party formally split last month, many had assumed that Dahal’s ability to influence political course would be weakened. But on Wednesday, Dahal not only put an end to the speculation, he sent a clear message to the opposition that he was ready for a negotiation, both across the table and on the streets.

Federal Democratic Republican Alliance declared in Kathmandu did not come as a surprise. After the dissolution of the CA, it was already in the making, but the delay was part of Dahal’s plans to test the water. The confusion over the formation of Janajati party gave an indication that people would rally behind a political party with a clear agenda on federalism rather than support a loose coalition of ethnic groups. The refusal by many UML janajati leaders to leave the party to join the idea of a Janajati party further boosted Maoist-Madhesi plans to launch a ‘pro-federal’ alliance.

Twenty one political parties have now come under the leadership of UCPN-Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal. Federal Democratic Republican Alliance has support of seven Madhes based parties, Dalit party, Chure-Bhavar party and independent muslim ex-lawmaker.

Declaring the alliance Maoist Chairman Dahal said that it is a long-term and strategic alliance in favour of federalism and is not targeted against anyone or any political party, but he did make his point by warning that the alliance would launch a united struggle if there was ‘conspiracy against people’s aspiration’ for identity-based federal republic.

The press release made during the program says that the alliance was born out of need for a new force to give impetus to progressive agendas for change. Speaking at the program the leaders of the alliance expressed their confidence that the alliance will help to end the present political deadlock by bringing together all the pro-federal forces under the same umbrella. The alliance has formed a four member executive committee that would work on its behalf and appointed Prem Bahadur Singh of the Nepal Loktantrik Samajbadi Party as the spokesperson.

The main opposition parties Nepali Congress and CPN-UML have condemned the Maoists for polarising the political landscape by forming an alliance. But Dahal defended the move by saying that the alliance was infact laying a minimum grounds for national consensus and extended a sarcastic invitation to the opposition by saying, those who stood in favour of federalism and constitution could join the alliance.

Although it is yet to be seen whether the Kiran Baidya led CPN-Maoist joins the alliance or not, the bloc is already strong enough to unsettle NC and UML’s plans to oust the present government. The opposition has been using its youth wings to stage protests against the Maoist-Madhesi government for the last two months.

While the opposition seems adamant on unseating Bhattarai government and has a declared agenda of going for parliamentary elections, the Maoist-Madhesi coalition have been insisting on revival of the house or next CA election as a bottomline for consensus. Dahal did not mince words and said the alliance had been formed to strengthen party’s negotiating power with the opposition on the issue. “I feel that I did not have enough support and credibility talking as a party Chairman alone but negotiating on behalf of a political front will give me more confidence. ,” he said. Having said so, he also criticised opposition leaders for being power greedy and refusing to resolve the deadlock and forge consensus.

It is yet to be seen whether the new alliance will help in forging consensus by forcing the opposition on revival of CA or further polarise already divided political landscape.

Anurag Acharya

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