August 7, 2022, Sunday

Prime Minister Deuba is not under a pressure decided to ratify MCC

KATHMANDU: If someone asks why Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba remained so frantic on Sunday, then the straight answer would be: “Because he is in favor of ratifying the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC).”

A letter sent by MCC to PM Deuba and Maoist Center Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda” has said, “If not ratified, it is within the MCC Board’s authority to discontinue Nepal’s eligibility to receive the $500 million Compact grant from the United States.”

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“Such a decision would end MCC’s partnership with Nepal,” the letter said.

Now, what is barring him from moving it forward? The answer is the lack of trust in his coalition partners and the double-standard attitude of Maoist Center Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda”.

That’s not all. PM Deuba even invited former Prime Minister and CPN-UML Chairman KP Oli to the Prime Minister’s official residence to discuss MCC.

A shrewd player in Nepali politics, PM Deuba knew well that one day he would be caught in a trap.herefore, he held a meeting with his coalition partners in Baluwatar on Saturday morning and sought the support of Prachanda, Chairman of Unified Samajbadi Party Madhav Kumar Nepal, and Janata Samajbadi Party Chairman Upendra Yadav to ratify the MCC.

He also invited party senior leader Ram Chandra Poudel to speak in his favor. According to a source, Poudel put forth an “emphatic proposal” for the ratification of MCC in the meeting.

Prime Minister Deuba, too, urged Prachanda for support. Prachanda, meanwhile, urged PM Deuba to move the MCC forward only after the elections.

Prachanda had also demanded, “some more time” to decide on the issue. “I need to discuss this issue with other comrades,” the source quoted Prachanda as saying.

Chairman Prachanda, too, has come under pressure from within the party against ratifying the MCC. Maoist leader Narayan Kaji Shrestha said that the party was adamant on its position that the MCC should not be passed in its status current form.

Some Maoist leaders have asked Prachanda to better quit the coalition than to side with the MCC leading to growing polarization in the ruling partners.

PM Deuba needed to put more effort to make it happen. Therefore, he sent Dilendra Prasad Badu, his confidant and Law Minister to hold talks with Speaker Agni Prasad Sapkota on Sunday.

But sources have to claim that Speaker Sapkota will not act on his own until and unless he gets a “green signal” from Prachanda. This means that Prachanda has to nod.

It’s not easy again for PM Deuba since the Prachanda’s Maoist party and Madhav Nepal’s Unified Socialist are against the idea of ratifying it from the parliament until and unless the United States agreed to make amendments.

Since PM Deuba was almost sure that Prachanda was not ready to budge an inch from his stance, the letter signed by him and Prachanda and sent to Washington was made public creating a new wave of confusion within the ruling coalition.

Prime Minister Deuba at the Tribhuvan International Airport in November last year had disclosed that he and Prachanda had jointly signed and sent a letter to MCC.

Nepal signed the MCC agreement in 2017 when Deuba was the Prime Minister.

Likewise, the decision to ratify the agreement was taken by the government led by KP Oli.

Prime Minister Deuba is not under a pressure from his party leaders since the party has already decided to ratify MCC Compact from the Parliament.

Therefore, PM Deuba wants to get it approved by the parliament while he is the Prime Minister as it is an agreement signed during his tenure as the Prime Minister.

Since is conscious of the geopolitical interest as well as the ramifications if MCC is not approved, PM Deuba is adamant to pass the MCC at all cost.

Besides, he is equally aware of the possible polarization in the ruling alliance due to MCC. That is why he is in constant dialogue with UML Chairman Oli to ratify the MCC.

“If it is not ratified, Nepal’s politics will take a new course, and can be unfortunate for the people and the country,” the source close to PM Deuba said adding that PM Deuba wants to seek the support of the main opposition.

UML Chairman Oli, however, has suggested PM Deuba convince his ruling partners to endorse it during Sunday’s meeting called by PM Deuba to discuss the letter sent by MCC reminding the leaders about their letter, which had set February 28 as the deadline to ratify it.

UML Chairman Oli, meanwhile, dismissed PM Deuba’s proposal saying it was not appropriate for the ruling coalition, which itself is in a state of confusion, to seek the support of the opposition.

Oli also said that his party would not allow smooth functioning of the parliament until the 14 lawmakers of the Madhav Kumar Nepal’s party – the Unified Socialist – were not dismissed from the parliament.

The MCC has in its letter sent by PM Deuba and Prachanda has urged Nepal to take action by February 28, 2022, or else “the MCC Board will discuss next steps at its March 2022 meeting, including whether to continue with the Compact.”