The president of the Nepali Congress and former prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba has claimed that the historic Constituent Assembly elections, scheduled for November 22 will be in jeopardy if the Maoists do not change their political behaviour.
Emerging from an hour long meeting with the newly appointed United States ambassador Nancy Powell on Thursday, Deuba demanded that the Maoist-affiliated Young Communist League (YCL) immediately stop the intimidation, extortion and kidnappings which he alleged they were still engaged in to create a conducive atmosphere for holding the polls.
Deuba’s statement has raised political eyebrows, specially because the Nepali Congress's own preparation for the polls is yet to begin.
Its units in almost all the 75 districts of the country are either demoralised or totally defunct. Most of its MPs have not visited their constituencies after the May 1999 elections.
Deuba’s charge against the Maoists also contradicts Nepal’s Home Minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula’s statement that Maoist activities are not a threat to the November elections.
Sitaula claimed he was more disturbed about the deteriorating law and order situation in the Terai region.
Maoist leaders also claimed recently that they were keen to ensure that the constituent assembly election was held as scheduled.
Indeed, the Maoists are one of the very few political forces in Nepal to have begun preparations for the election in earnest. Their recently held central committee meeting also restructured the organisation for the elections.
Frequently dubbed a “puppet” of King Gyanendra’s, Deuba’s move to unify his Nepali Congress (Democratic) with Girija Prasad Koirala’s Nepali Congress has also reached a dead end.
It is reported that Deuba repeatedly tried to convince the US envoy that he was still open to the unification initiative with Koirala’s party.