The Big Three struck yet another deal on Thursday. This time to end the special session of the House, after its futility was confirmed, and, to call for a regular one without delay. This, however, does not tell clearly how the deadlock would break.
Nonetheless, reading the minds of the major political parties, the murky politics can be imagined to be unfolding itself on either of the following scenarios. First, a Nepali Congress (NC)-led majority government keeping intact the current coalition. Second, a CPN-UML-led majority government. Third, a Maoist-led majority government with UML backing.
Let’s take the first scenario: NC-led majority government keeping intact the current coalition. This could take shape under Ram Chandra Poudel’s leadership or under Sher Bahadur Deuba’s. Given the UML decision that it could accept Poudel’s leadership if his candidacy is withdrawn and a new process for consensus is initiated, the NC leader’s chances of leading a majority government cannot be ruled out. The UML faction led by Prime Minsiter Mahdav Kumar
Deuba leading the majority government is another distinct possibility. The disgruntled Deuba faction feels this is the right time it pushed the party for a “package solution” inside the party. In the quid pro quo with the party leadership, Deuba could get several things in bargain, one of them the NC’s choice for the prime minister. To many close to Deuba, the solution means offering Poudel the vice presidency in the party in exchange for the prime ministerial candidacy. “This is possible if the leadership realises that Poudel failed to secure enough support for the 17th time in the House. The party president should himself propose another name, that is Deuba, or else the party would move to a disaster,” said a leader close to Deuba. This could conveniently establish Koirala’s hold on the Deuba faction and in effect on the party as a whole.
The Deuba faction claims that, if the party president does not go for Poudel’s alternative, it can usurp the post of Parliamentary Party leader it has “gained confidence” of winning the support of about 50 percent lawmakers following Party President Sushil Koirala’s controversial proposal to fill the vacancies at central committee.
The second possibility of UML leading the next majority government cannot be ruled out. This, however, could happen either with Maoist back-up or with the current coalition intact. The fact that the three parties reached the agreement to end the Special Session after Dahal and Khanal first came to an agreement to that effect early on Thursday speaks of some understanding between the two leaders on power sharing. UML’s chances of leading a government would also be high if Poudel fails to withdraw his candidacy in the regular session. It is not sure whether NC will withdraw Poudel’s candidacy as the establishment faction fears that the rival leaders from the Deuba camp would not let Poudel to file his candidacy once again for the same post. In that case, UML has already decided to vote down NC’s candidacy. "We can support Congress if it pulls outs its candidacy and a new consensus is forged under its leadership," UML Secretary Yuba Raj Gywali said. “If that does not happen, our claim for leadership is intact.”
The third scenario of a Maoist-led government can materialise if the Maoists make concrete progress on integration of their combatants, one condition put forth by the UML for its support to the Maoists. Given the Maoist willingness, of late, to make some important decisions, a decision by the party on integration cannot be ruled out. Besides, the intra-party tussle in the UML on leadership, especially between Kahal and KP Oli, also increases the chances of the UML ending up deciding to support a Maoist-led government.