NC open about passing MCC with UML’s support – Prashanna Pokharel

Nepali Congress (NC) has started discussing about getting the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Compact ratified even with help of CPN-UML if CPN (Maoist Center) and CPN (Unified Socialist) refuse to endorse it.
NC President Sher Bahadur Deuba, who is also the prime minister (PM), proposed to discuss the MCC during the party’s central working committee meeting on Thursday even though it was not included among the meeting’s agendas prepeared by General Secretary Bishwa Prakash Sharma.
US Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Donald Lu phoned Prime Minister (PM) Sher Bahadur Deuba earlier Thursday morning reminding that the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Compact must be passed by February end.
The ruling party discussed the MCC in detail during the meeting in the afternoon and concluded that it is beneficial for Nepal and should be tabled in the House for ratification.
CPN (Maoist Center) and CPN (Unified Socialist) in the ruling coalition have been saying that the MCC Compact should not be passed without amendment despite Maoist Center Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal and PM Deuba jointly writing to the MCC on September 29 seeking a few months to get it passed. The joint letter had not talked about any amendment and America has already said there will be no amendment and the US$ 500 million MCC grant will be taken back if the House does not ratify the MCC Compact by February end.
Dahal has not been able to take a decision on MCC with many leaders inside the party, as in CPN (Unified Socialist) , insisting that it should not be passed as it is.
NC still wants to get the MCC ratified with support of the ruling coalition but it has now started to explore about passing the MCC with support of UML if the coalition partners Maoist Center and Unified Socialist don’t come on board, according to an NC office-bearer.
A total of 138 House of Represnetatives (HoR) members need to support the MCC for ratification and the five-party ruling coalition has 165 seats. Rastriya Janamorcha, that has one seat, is already against the MCC and the coalition cannot get it passed without the support of two communist parties even though Janata Samajwadi Party (JSP) is in favor of the MCC.
The NC leader said that NC can break the coalition and get it passed with support of UML in that case. UML has 98 lawmakers and NC 61 and the two largest parties in the House can comfortably muster the majority even if a few UML lawmakers from the erstwhile Khanal-Nepal faction still remaining in UML decide to not vote for the MCC.
The NC office-bearer claimed that the government will remain even if the coalition unravels over the MCC Compact as another government cannot be formed by this House in accordance to the Constitution and PM Deuba will hold the next general election.
NC has even started to mull about the options left if Speaker Agni Sapkota, who was elected in the last general election on Maoist ticket, refuses to table the MCC in the House on instruction of Dahal, according to another NC leader.
Speaker Sapkota has been saying that the MCC should not be tabled amidst the continuing House obstruction by UML and should be discussed in the House only after forging national consensus.
Many leaders from outside the Deuba camp are already against continuing the currentl coalition through the local and general elections and the party feels that UML, which stands to gain at the expense of Maoist Center and Unified Socialist if NC does not ally with the two parties, will agree to get the MCC ratified to break the coalition.
“UML will register an impeachment motion against Speaker Sapkota pointing that he did not publish the notice of expulsion of the lawmakers from the then Khanal-Nepal faction of the party,” the NC office-bearer confided. “Speaker will be suspended immediately after the impeachment motion is registered. Deputy speaker would run the House in that situation. But the oldest lawmaker in the House will table the MCC Compact as acting speaker as there is no deputy speaker now and it will be passed. “
The NC leader claimed that while the party is open about all the options to get the MCC passed it still believes that Dahal and Unified Socialist Chairman Madhav Kumar Nepal will support to get it ratified for the sake of continuing the coalition until the election.
Deuba has already pledged to continue the coalition until the election despite many in the party demanding that NC should contest the election alone.

Published Date: Friday, Magh 28, 2078, 14:46:00

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