Nepali Times Asian Paints
From The Nepali Press
Spinning for consensus

Himal Khabarpatrika: Where is the country heading?
Jhalanath Khanal: All are trying to find a point of consensus. Considering the recent developments, the country is moving towards a consensus.

How can you say that?
The meetings held in Hattiban and Gokarna have made headway. This will yield results if we consolidate our ideas and sentiments and give it a shape.

What did you discuss in the Hattiban and Gokarna meetings?
The Hattiban meeting helped identify the root cause of the problems, find potential solutions and understand the stance of the political parties. These meetings were crucial to sort out differences and build confidence. Both sides have agreed to conclude the peace process, institute a special committee, establish a secretariat and appoint a secretary. The Maoist combatants will be brought under the special committee within a week. They will be divided into three groups to be integrated and rehabilitated. The paramilitary structure of the YCL will be dissolved within a month and a half.

What is barring you from reaching a consensus then?
Power sharing along with issues related to the peace process and constitution writing should be finalised in a package to reach a consensus.

Then the dispute is about who should lead the new government.
The Maoists have exhibited flexibility regarding the leadership of the new government and so have we. It makes no difference who leads a consensus government.

Then why not form the government under the leadership of the lone candidate Ram Chandra Poudel?
This is not possible. Our party has concluded that a fresh process should be initiated as the current process is faulty. The Supreme Court recently instructed the speaker to end the futile election process.

The SC directive can also be interpreted in favour of Poudel?
For that, there should be a consensus first.

Is there possibility of a consensus on Poudel's candidacy?
I don't see any possibility of voting for his current candidacy. But this does not mean his candidacy should be ignored. Either NC or UML can lead the government if a consensus is reached.

What about the Maoists leading government?
They can lead the government only if the PLA is managed and a consensus is reached on a rotational system.

Can the parties reach a consensus while Poudel's candidacy still stands or after it is withdrawn?
It depends on the political parties. Withdrawal of the candidacy could take place along with the initiation of a new process.

You said Madhav Nepal's resignation would lead to a consensus. Now you are saying the withdrawal of Poudel's candidacy will help reach a consensus.
I never said Nepal's resignation would help forge a consensus. But Poudel's candidacy is one of the barriers to a consensus.

What guarantee is there that there will be a consensus if Poudel withdraws?
What guarantee is there that it won't lead to a consensus?

Some say that the UML does not have a political stance, compared to the clear positions of the Maoists and the NC, and that you only managed to undermine a government led by your own party.
We are leading the way towards consensus, as we have been doing since during the insurgency, and we have our own viewpoints on the peace process and constitution writing that the other political parties are now converging towards. As for the UML-led government, the central committee decided, with the agreement of Madhav Nepal, that it had outlasted its usefulness with regards to the peace process and the constitution, and that we needed a national consensus.

Has this government succeeded at advancing the peace process and constitution writing?
No, it has failed.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)