Pressure mounts on Nepal PM to quit

Kathmandu: Political uncertainty gripped Nepal as the opposition on Tuesday stepped up pressure on Maoist- backed government of Prime Minister Jhala Nath Khanal to resign, a day after a key Madhesi alliance partner split.

The Madhesi Peoples Rights Forum`s split yesterday is a setback for the Khanal government, which has been seeking support from the opposition parties to extend the term of the 601-member Constituent Assembly that expires on May 28.

Pressure stepped up on Khanal to resign as his government failed to table the bill seeking to extend the term of the Assembly for the straight third day due to the obstruction put by the main opposition Nepali Congress in the wake of split of MPRF, a Terai based a key alliance partner from the Terai plains bordering India.

Nepali Congress, with its 113 seats have been able to garner support from 16 other parties including the Madhesis having more than one third strength in favour of its demands.

The Nepali Congress has submitted a ten point demand asked the Maoists to lay down arms and agree on modality for the integration of maximum 4,000 Maoist combatants and return seized property before the government`s bill seeking to amend the Interim Constitution for extending the term of the CA beyond May 28 gets approval from the main opposition party.

Meanwhile, Jaya Prakash Gupta, the president of Madhesi Peoples Rights Forum  Republican, the breakaway faction of the MPRF, asked Khanal to resign from the post prior to extending the term of the Constituent Assembly.

"We are in favour of extending the CA`s term" he told media persons adding "however, there is no alternative to the resignation of the PM," he said.

"The completion of the peace and the statute drafting processes must be ensured prior to the term extension."

The politburo meeting of the ruling CPN-UML of Prime Minister Khanal yesterday asked the Prime Minister even to be ready to quit power for paving way to forming an alternative government if that was needed to forge a national consensus.

With the split in the MPRF led by Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Upendra Yadav, the coalition government`s position in the Constituent Assembly has been weakened making the role of main opposition Nepali Congress crucial to get endorsed the government`s move to extend the CA term.

While Yadav had decided to join the Communist-led alliance, the dissidents had opposed the move to bail out the coalition supported by the Maoists.

In the mean time, bilateral talks have been intensified between Nepali Congress and the Maoist as well as the CPN-UML and the Nepali Congress to resolve the current political empasse.

The Maoists and the NC have formed a four member task force to for negotiation purposes as the country was heading to a political catastrophe with no clear road map in sight four days ahead of expiry of the Constituent Assembly term.