Prachanda rejects demands for PM resignation

Kathmandu: With the opposition baying for Baburam Bhattarai`s resignation, Nepal`s ruling Maoist chief Prachanda on Friday warned that the country will plunge into catastrophe if the Prime Minister quits before resolving the vexed Constitution-drafting issue.

"It is completely wrong on the part of the opposition parties Nepali Congress and CPN-UML to ask the Prime Minister to step down before agreeing on the key issue of the Constitution," Prachanda told PTI.

"Political consensus is essential among the parties at this moment as there is no representative body in the country after the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly," he said.

The 601-member Assembly, which had been extended four times since 2008, was dissolved on May 27 after parties failed to reach consensus on whether to adopt federal structure based on single ethnic identity or multi-ethnic identity.

Bhattarai has called fresh elections on November 22, after years of deadlock over the issue of a new Constitution. Prachanda, also former prime minister, warned on Friday that the country will plunge into catastrophe if Bhattarai resigns, leaving a power vacuum.

There is no alternative to building consensus among parties other than holding fresh elections for the Constituent Assembly or promulgating the Constitution through any other means, he said.
"Bhattarai and our party are prepared to quit the government after forging consensus among political parties," Prachanda promised. "First of all it is important to forge consensus on the contentious issue of the Constitution."

Prachanda offered a package deal under which the Maoist government would quit through an agreement among political parties.

Earlier in the day, Prachanda, addressing a conclave organised by Sadbhawana Party, said that changes brought about through the people`s struggle need to be institutionalised by drafting a Constitution.

He blamed Nepali Congress and CPN-UML for the failure to promulgate the new Constitution on time, alleging that these parties were not sincerely involved in federating the state on the basis of ethnic identity.

Prachanda also slammed the breakaway group of the Maoists led by Mohan Vaidya `Kiran` claiming that it was opposed to the 12-point agreement reached among political parties in 2005 in New Delhi that ultimately abolished monarchy and brought revolutionary changes and accused it of toeing the line of the former royalists.

"Those who are opposing federal structure, secular state and republic system are blocking the Constitution-drafting process and thereby maintaining status quo," he said.

Ruling out the possibility of Bhattarai`s resignation as demanded by the opposition, Prachanda maintained it would plunge the country into deeper crisis if the Prime Minister resigned without forging consensus among the political parties on the key issues of federal structure.