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No consensus yet in Nepal

world Updated: Aug 13, 2010 23:53 IST
Utpal Parashar

Consensus or sahamati is the most commonly used term in Nepali politics these days. Everyone across the political spectrum agree that it must be achieved to end the ongoing political deadlock.

But 44 days after Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal resigned, political parties in the Himalayan nation are yet to arrive at it. Four rounds of voting to elect a new prime minister have failed to elicit any result.

The next face off between Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Nepali Congress leader Ram Chandra Poudel on August 18 will also meet a similar outcome unless something dramatic happens. Quite possible in Nepal where politicians are known to find last minute Quick Fix solutions.

The stalemate has affected the peace and constitution drafting processes and has worried India as well. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh sent former Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran as special envoy to hold talks with all big political players and end the impasse ahead of the fourth round of voting.

Stressing India was not intervening in government formation, the former Ambassador to Nepal held meetings with Maoists, Nepali Congress, CPN-UML and Madheshi parties.

But abstention by CPM-UML (108 members) and United Democratic Madhesi Forum —the umbrella group of four-Madhesi parties (83 members) ensured another dud in the fourth round of voting.

With pressure mounting to find a way out, parties are again busy in meetings to find the missing sahamati.

CPN-UML wants both candidates to withdraw from the contest and is seeking a change in rules to end continuous rounds of voting till a prime minister is elected.

A faction within the party is of the view that instead of remaining neutral, it should support one of the candidates to end the deadlock.

The Maoists have shown willingness to bend, but with a rider. The party says it will withdraw from the prime minister’s race, but wants Poudel to take the lead.

Wary that the Maoists might backtrack, Nepali Congress has decided to stay put in the contest till a result is reached.

In such a scenario, CPM-UML and the Madhesi parties are likely to remain neutral in the fifth round of voting as well.

If that happens, consensus will be casualty again.