President Yadav (left) and PM Bhattarai
Never before in the last one month was President Dr. Ram Baran Yadav so frustrated when he attended the all-party meeting as he was on Monday, December 24.
"I have extended the deadline several times, but you failed to agree on the consensus candidate. I would like to request all of you to agree on a consensus candidate or give me an alternative," President Dr. Yadav told the leaders of the four major political parties.
By extending the deadline for the seventh time to find a consensus candidate after November 22, President Dr. Yadav has given a clear message to the political leaders that he wants a new prime minister to replace the current Prime Minister Dr. Baburam Bhattarai to hold free and fair elections.
"The country cannot go on like this as a hostage for a longer time because of our inability,” President Dr. Yadav reportedly told Nepali Congress leader Sushil Koirala, UML leader Jhalnath Khanal and Samyukta Loktantrik Madheshi Morcha leader Bijaya Kumar Gachchhadar on Monday.
Knowing that president Dr. Ram Baran Yadav, who has very limited options before him, will act sooner or later, Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai seems to be losing his confidence. Backed by Samuykta Madhesi alliance, Prime Minister Bhattarai even threatened his opponents to retaliate if necessary.
“I am not a follower of Mahatma Gandhi or Gautam Bhuddha, who teaches tolerance. As a follower of Marx, Lenin and Mao, I was taught to retaliate against those who attack you,” thundered Prime Minister Bhattarai in a public meeting.
President Dr. Yadav was furious with Prime minister Dr. Baburam Bhattarai - who has already irritated President Dr. Yadav by handing over his resignation letter two weeks back without putting his signature- for his recent statements rejecting the possibility to tender resignation.
Given the current situation, it is unlikely that the four political parties will select a consensus candidate as political parties have already shown their inability to do so. “Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai will tender his resignation before president returns from his visit. Otherwise, the president will remove Bhattarai for failing to hold the elections in November,” said CPN-UML leader Jhalanath Khanal.
With the rejection of advice of party president Prachanda for resignation, Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai has made it clear that he will fight a lonely battle. "Since issuing notice asking a consensus candidate, president Dr. Yadav has not only weakened Prime Minister Babuarm Bhattarai and leaders of political parties who failed to submit consensus candidate, he has weakened himself too," said a political analyst.
As parties are busy to find political consensus, the ruling UCPN-Maoist is preparing to hold its long overdue general convention, which has been rescheduled for coming February 2, in Hetauda. Earlier, the meeting was scheduled for January 27 in Kathmandu. The party has not held a general convention for the last 20 years. It also failed to hold the general convention announced two years ago. Party Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal has remained at the helm continuously for the past two decades. The general convention held in Chitwan in 1992 had elected him the party chief. As the convention draws closer, there are more rifts between Prachanda loyalists and Prime Minister Bhattarai loyalists.
If his statement is any indication, the president is determined to act now despite the verbal threat by prime minister to retaliate. If the prime minister rejected to resign paving the way for new consensus prime minister or political parties failed to name a consensus candidate, the president will call a broader meeting of political parties to find a candidate.
The first option is choosing the prime minister on the recommendation of major four political parties. The second option is to choose the prime minister after consultations with larger political conclave. If he cannot find the candidate among political parties, he will choose a candidate from the civil society to head a neutral government.