Unity with Maoist Center possible provided it deserts NC: UML leader Bhattarai

Dhiraj Basnet

July 28, 2022


Unity with Maoist Center possible provided it deserts NC: UML leader Bhattarai

KATHMANDU: Election Commission officials met with Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba on July 6 and suggested that the election date for federal and provincial elections should be announced 120 days prior to the election.

They suggested conducting both elections on November 18. According to the commission’s suggestion, the date of the election should have been announced 4 months in advance, i.e. by July 18.

However, the government, which has been passing various bills rapidly through the parliament, has ignored the EC suggestion. The election date is still uncertain.

The political parties are busy working on forming the electoral alliance. Even the leftist parties of the NC-led coalition have intensified talks for the formation of a leftist front for the election purpose.

In this context, Khabarhub’s Dhiraj Basnet approached CPN-UML Secretary Yogesh Bhattarai to find out UML’s plans and position for the forthcoming election.

Here are the excerpts of the interview:

Why has not UML urged the government to announce the election date?

CPN-UML has repeatedly drawn the government’s attention to the need to immediately announce the date for the election to the House of Representatives.

In the House of Representatives, the UML lawmakers have repeatedly drawn the attention of the government to set the date of the election. But the government has taken no heed of it.

Why did not you tell the Prime Minister, in person, that it was too late to set the election date?

Speaking in a public manner in Parliament is to attract everyone’s attention. Parliament is the place to voice everything in the parliamentary system. Be it the government or the Prime Minister, everyone’s attention is drawn to parliament.

Will the CPN-UML move forward by aligning with any party in the upcoming elections?

The alliance is not the main objective of the UML. The UML policy is to contest the elections based on its principles, strength and power.

There is news that UML is aligning with various parties ranging from the right-wing Rastriya Prajatantra Party to CK Raut’s Janamat Party. Is it true?

It is not the declared policy of UML. Now, we have been preparing for the elections by participating in the party’s internal meeting and training in the province.

The electoral alliance at the constituency level is the prerogative of the local committees. Centrally, UML has not adopted the policy of electoral alliance.

CPN-Maoist Center and CPN-Unified Socialists are said to be planning to form an alliance or unite with UML. Is it true? Have you given a green signal for it? 

That situation has not come yet. Maoist Center has to break up with NC for it. If it agrees to do so, UML can go with Maoist Center or the unity or alliance becomes feasible. UML is in favor of the change.

It is a party that works for the economic prosperity of the country, a socialist party. It is a party of patriots. There are two poles: one a socialist pole led by UML and another led by NC.

NC is a party of the bourgeoisie. It is a status quo party. That is why it unites the capitalists and bourgeoisie forces under it. These are the two poles in Nepali politics.

There is no possibility for other parties to exist separately. If they want to save their existence, they should stay either under the umbrella of UML or under the umbrella of NC.

Today they are under the NC umbrella. And that is an unconstitutional alliance. Although Prachanda and Madhav Kumar Nepal call themselves socialist, communist, and progressive, they live under the umbrella of NC.

In fact, if they are socialist, communist, or progressive, they should come out of that umbrella and move forward together with a progressive party like UML.

Are you working to place your position high by making Maoist Center break the coalition?

They are the passengers of the bus driven by NC President Sher Bahadur Deuba. How can they come to the bus driven by KP Oli?

Therefore, if they want to go in the right direction and come to the right path, they have to come out of there. That is, if the Maoist Center breaks up with NC, there can be unity with the Maoists.

How do you take their discussion with Bamdev Gautam?

As a responsible party, we cooperate with all parties. We also cooperate with NC in some matters. But we are not for gathering tiny parties and forming an alliance for the election.

Why did UML maintain mum while the Citizenship Act (first amendment) Bill? Why are some leaders of your party saying it is not in the national interest?

More than 45 amendment proposals were submitted in the House of Representatives by 31 lawmakers on the issue of citizenship. When the Speaker presented it, we voted yes. How can it be called silence?

What are your disagreements?

The issue that we have raised is regarding naturalized citizenship after marriage. We are not against awarding citizenship after marriage.

Citizenship is not available immediately after marriage in any country today. If an outsider comes after marriage, s/he has to stay in that country for some time, learn the language there, learn the cultural norms and values there, and then get citizenship there. It is the same in every country.

No woman of other nations gets Indian citizenship till 7 years of marriage; in Bangladesh, the condition is of 5 years.

The Maldives does not provide citizenship on the basis of marriage. Bhutan does not provide naturalized citizenship till a child gets it. We hold the bill in parliament for 22 months as we want to make some rational regulations on it.

Nepal is a country with open borders. It is a country surrounded by two huge population nations. We believe that we should make a national consensus on a sensitive issue like citizenship.

The ruling party did not even once ask how to proceed. In some cases, citizenship may even demand a constitutional amendment in the days to come. You have to wait some time to get citizenship in another country.

Some people have even argued that UML is making it propaganda to influence voters in forthcoming general elections?

If such a thing is made an election issue, the country’s nationality will be at stake. The sense of patriotism will be weaker.

We are concerned about the future of the country wondering what will happen when the nationals of our own country fall into the minority due to erroneous decisions on citizenship. It does not matter much for the election.

Will, it not add voters to the election?

A temporary arrangement can be made for that. There are other measures that can be taken. We have said that those who are married should be given a temporary residence card.

When they get it, they will get their names included in the voter’s list in the election as well. Using the same card, they can buy and sell land, get an education, and do business.