UML will emerge as the largest party: Chief Whip Bhattarai

Dhiraj Basnet

August 17, 2022


UML will emerge as the largest party: Chief Whip Bhattarai

KATHMANDU: CPN-UML Chairman KP Oli has indicated that his party is moving forward with the door open for the left alliance.

With the preparation of the elections to be held on November 20, Chairman Oli, in the central secretariat meeting of UML to prepare an initial strategy, indicated the electoral strategy to go ahead, keeping the door of the left alliance open while maintaining the possibility that the current alliance may collapse.

Khabarhub’s Dhiraj Basnet talked to UML Chief Whip Bishal Bhattarai on the issues related to the possibility of a leftist alliance the main opposition is in dire need of, Madhav Kumar Nepal led CPN-Unified Socialist party’s response to it and UML strategy for the forthcoming federal and provincial elections. Excerpts:

What are the reasons behind UML Chair Oli’s positive gesture in making the left alliance? Or is Oli shocked by the results of the local elections?

Under the prevalent election system, it seems difficult for a party to get a majority. In this situation, seeking to form an alliance among like-minded groups or parties is natural.

It doesn’t matter whether it is left or non-left. I do not think the coalition formed under the strength and design of the alien forces is likely to break.

There may have been some disagreements on the issue of seat distribution, but it will not break easily.

Even though the ruling alliance is strong, there are discussions going on internally for the left alliance, what do you say about it? How likely is it to make progress in forming a left alliance?

The leaders of our party, at the individual level, are having conversations with the chairmen and executive committee members of other parties.

Some leaders and workers of the party are dissatisfied with the name of the left-wing nationwide. The leadership in the parties of the ruling coalition has realized that the journey to socialism is not possible by joining the Nepali Congress side.

Despite the pressure and desire of a large number of cadres and well-wishers, they (top leaders in the ruling coalition) are forced to join the bourgeois forces there. UML, as a responsible political party, has not tried any means to break the ruling coalition.

Do not you realize that UML will be in the critical mode provided the ruling coalition continues in the forthcoming election as well?

When the five parties went to the local elections as one, we still got 3.8 million votes. Even in this election, when all the coalition parties are united, we may have a few votes in some places.

However, the overall performance of UML will be better. UML stands on its own feet and contests the elections.

Out of 165 seats, how many seats will UML be able to win this year?

Among the directly elected seats, we will bag the majority. So far we have 80 seats. We are sure the number will not decline, rather it will increase this time.

We are in the majority on the proportional seats as well. So somehow we get closer to the majority. We will form the government after getting the majority.

So unlike in the past, when we could not work on our agenda due to lack of majority, we will get a majority this time and take the development agenda of the party ahead.

How can you expect UML to get a majority when unlike Oli’s nationalist agenda of the 2017 elections, there are allegations against the party of foiling the majority government, misleading the country, and institutionalizing corruption this time?

Some say that the UML provoked the economic blockade then. Yet, it had a positive message to the public. And now we have a better agenda than that, the agenda of publishing the revised map and the development activities executed during the UML government’s time.

Even though you released a revised map with Limpiyadhura included in it, the territory has not been handed back to Nepal, do you think the people will vote for UML based on the revised map?

Although the new map was published by the Parliament, our government did not last long. Some forces interfered with it. We will tell the people about that situation.

The results of the parliamentary elections and local elections are not the same. The voters consider the development and nationalist initiations put forward by the UML government in this parliamentary election, they will compare our Prime Minister candidate with other parties’ candidates and surely vote for us. We can easily bag the majority this time.

 The wave of independent candidates has also continued in the same way, it seems that its direct impact will be more on the UML than on the ruling coalition, do not you think so?

Some people have come to make speculations that if the same trend in the local election continues, they will be able to win the election, but it is easy said than done.

In a democratic system, one can contest as an independent candidate and win the constituency as well; however, the voters in parliamentary elections will calculate what ensures political stability. Independent candidates’ whim is temporary.

It doesn’t take people for that. It affects other parties. As the independent candidates have raised agendas similar to UML, the presence of independent candidates will bring difficulties to other parties, not UML.

Even after the announcement of the election date, the Parliament is still going on, how does the UML view it?

Some people have imagined a situation without people’s representatives. If that situation had happened, some people have thought that the situation would have been the same as in 2002.

The Constitution envisions that there will never be a situation without the people’s representatives whether it is at the local or provincial or federal level.

Others play tricks on that gaping. That’s why we have been reiterating that the parliament should exist till another parliament comes into existence. Therefore, it is not strange that the parliament is running.

Even after the announcement of the election, the government has not been announced as a caretaker government. Will not there be opposition from UML?

It is not a matter of whether the government is declared a caretaker or not. There is no such provision. The government, which is preparing for the election, does not make decisions of long-term importance and decisions that have long-term effects. His main work focuses on elections. The government and the parliament both have to continue.

Do you want to continue the parliament because you can easily enjoy the salaries and allowances of the state fund?

CPN-UML does the same thing whether it is in the government or not. We do not say one thing when in government and another when out of power.

We did not make the provision for the continuation of the parliament or the government considering our numbers then.

How much is to be spent on the salary and allowance of the lawmakers is not of prime concern, the most important issue is retaining the presence of the people’s representatives, and the continuation of the rule by the people’s representatives.

The Supreme Court said that Parliament cannot be dissolved. It was aimed at the then Prime Minister Oli. It has given ‘life-support’ to the coalition for the time being.

UML was silent on the impeachment motion against the suspended Chief Justice Cholendra Shumsher Rana. What is your special opinion on this?

When the impeachment motion was introduced, the coalition did not have a two-thirds majority. Their votes would not have been enough without the main opposition party’s support.

At that time, in a guerilla style, they used the signatures of the parliamentarians for a different purpose in a different style and filed an impeachment.

It was brought as a conspiracy to make the court a puppet of political party leaders so that the judges of the Supreme Court would rule against us and favor them.

Chief Justice Rana was suspended. We were not completely satisfied with the role of the then Chief Justice Rana. We are not satisfied with the decisions he made. He also removed our government by issuing a decree. Therefore, we are not on his side.

We are now in favor of the system. It is wrong to hold the Supreme Court hostage, make it a victim of factionalism, keep the court’s decisions closed for months, and keep the court closed and locked.

Therefore, CPN-UML says that this is not right. We are not against each other. There are five judges who were on the constitutional bench then and who did not allow the government to work after announcing the election. All of them should be removed.

All of them demeaned the court, abolishing the respect of the judges. Therefore, we are in favor of removing all of them and bringing in a new generation.