If you can’t convince them, confuse them

Accusing Republicans of misinforming industrial workers and farmers about his Democratic government’s farm and labour policies, former US president Harry S Truman had famously said in a 1948 campaign speech—“If you can’t convince them, confuse them”.

More than six decades later that quote seems to have inspired leaders of the ruling Maoist party in Nepal—who have been shifting stances, making fresh demands and setting new pre-conditions for consensus—in short, confusing the opposition and the nation.

In the past six and half months since dissolution of the Constituent Assembly, the ruling Maoists—more specifically it’s chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda and Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai have successfully used this strategy to prolong the party’s stay in power.

The recent example of it was seen last week when Prachanda managed to outwit Nepali Congress President Sushil Koirala.

The Maoist chairman gave indications that his party was willing to support a NC-led ‘unity’ government if Koirala’s party announces a candidate for the PM’s post. But when Koirala’s name was officially announced, Prachanda made a fresh set of demands.

He wanted a package deal to sort out all existing issues in order to support Koirala. The opposition which even postponed their anti-government stir due to hopes of an early resolution of the ongoing political and constitutional crisis now doesn’t know how to react.

Nepali Congress has reiterated its demand for Bhattarai’s ouster and made it clear that the party won’t compromise on constitutional issues or agree to pre-conditions set by Maoists for the sake of securing the prime minister’s post in the next government.

With NC in a quandary on its future moves, Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist) is mulling over naming a candidate for the PM’s post. This after Prachanda assured some of its leaders that his party might support a non-NC candidate for the post.

But even before CPN (UML) arrives at such a decision Prachanda came out with a new stance expressing willingness to back someone from the Madhesi parties for the top post.

When CA got dissolved in May, Bhattarai had announced holding of fresh elections in November. But differences between the ruling Maoist-Madhesi coalition and the opposition led by Nepali Congress and CPN (UML) prevented that from happening.

All these months instead of burying their differences both camps remained busy in squabbling for power—the main contention being which party would head the national unity government comprising all parties when the next elections are held.

The ruling parties kept insisting that the present coalition should continue and urged others to join it to make it a ‘unity’ government. On the other hand NC and CPN (UML) demanded Bhattarai’s removal as the sole pre-condition for consensus and formation of a unity government.

When the announced date of election came, instead of relinquishing his post for failing to hold polls, Bhattarai announced polls in April-May next year and appealed to all for consensus.

And though he reiterated willingness to make all sacrifices—nothing of that sort has happened yet.

With the government failing to hold elections, President Ram Baran Yadav gave a seven day ultimatum of all parties last month to select a prime minister through consensus to head the unity government.

But with both opposition and ruling parties failing to agree on a name Yadav had no option than to extend the deadline twice. The latest time limit to forge consensus expires on Wednesday.

This time all parties express confidence of reaching a deal within deadline. Though parties are still far from consensus there’s still a possibility that it could happen—-unless Prachanda lists new conditions to bamboozle the already confused opposition.

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