Nepal's Maoists are open to discuss an alternative to party chief Prachanda as their prime ministerial candidate, but within their own ranks, a senior leader has said as the former rebels soften their stance in the face of a thickening political deadlock.
"We are ready to discuss about the alternative to Prachanda as prime ministerial candidate from within the party, but not from outside the party," UCPN-Maoist spokesperson Dinanath Sharma said.
His remarks over the issue came in the wake of media reports that intra-party rift has widened in the Unified CPN-Maoist over the issue of electing a new prime minister.
National daily Republica claimed that serious intra-party disputes have surfaced in the UCPN-M over the leadership issue with Prachanda signalling his readiness to allow another party lead the next consensus government.
Prachanda has said that he was ready to back CPN-UML president Jhalanath Khanal for Prime Minister, instead of Maoist leader Baburam Bhattarai, an idea opposed by the pro-Bhattarai faction.
"The party's decision meant proposing Bhattarai to lead the government as an alternative. But the chairman is playing a new game," a party leader was quoted as saying by the paper.
The Maoists had recently launched a crippling general strike for a week to press for their demand for dissolving the present coalition led by Madhav Kumar Nepal and paving the way for a Prachanda-led government. But, it has now shown willingness to go for another leader.
The party has also initiated discussions with other political outfits for an alternative to the present government.
"The government does not seem to be serious in drafting the Constitution and completing the peace process but rather it wants to stick to power for a longer period," Sharma said.
He also accused Prime Minister of Nepal of attempting to dissolve the Constituent Assembly, rather than forging consensus with the opposition on key issues.
"He should pave way for forming a national government by tendering his resignation," Sharma said.
Maoist chief Prachanda has said his party was ready to dissolve its paramilitary outfit, the Young Communist League, within 4-5 days and manage the Maoist combatants within four months, in line with the ruling coalition's demand before negotiating for a consensus government.
Sceptical of the assurance, the Nepali Congress general secretary Bimalendra Nidhi said the Maoists should put their words into actual practice first.