The nomination of Sushil Koirala as a prime ministerial candidate by the Nepali Congress has paved way for the exit of Baburam Bhattarai's government. Despite spearheading several popular programs, the inability to hold timely elections will be the highlight of his one year stint in office. Bhattarai's failure to hold polls has also reflected badly upon the UCPN-M's political credibility and even his well-wishers in the party now advise him to find a safe exit.
To be sure, Koirala still has a long way to go before convincing the Maoists and Madhesis to accept his leadership in the all-party government. Besides, the parties have to agree on filling the vacant constitutional posts including those of the Election Commissioners to ensure free and fair elections. But the ongoing negotiations between political parties is premised on outstanding issues of constitution drafting like the form of governance and type of federalism, which could impinge upon the mandate of the future constituent assembly. The parties should take these agendas to the elections and let the people decide for themselves rather than holding up the polls.
UCPN-M's insistence on seeking an agreement on the sticking issues at a time when there is unanimous agreement to go for CA elections seems irrational. The party still represents a political force that has stood for radical change, which gives it a comparative advantage. So for their own sake, the Maoists must create an conducive environment for the polls to take place even if it means giving the green light for an all-party government under Koirala.