RSP to decide whether or not to join Prachanda-led govt on Friday

Kathmandu:  Nepal’s Rastriya Swatantra Party (RSP) will decide whether or not to join the government at a party meeting on Friday, a senior party leader said on Monday, a day after its Chairman Ravi Lamichhane met Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ here.

The RSP, the fourth largest party in Nepal’s Parliament, won two out of three seats of the House of Representatives in recently held by-polls, raising its tally in the lower house to 22.

Speaking at a press conference after the central committee meeting of RSP on Monday, RSP General Secretary and Spokesperson Mukul Dhakal said that a meeting has been called for Friday to decide on the issue of the party joining the current government, My Republica newspaper reported.

In Monday’s meeting, the central members gave their views on whether or not to join the government, the paper said.

The development comes a day after RSP Chairman Lamichhane met Prachanda at the Prime Minister’s residence on Sunday. Their meeting assumed significance as the Maoist leader has been trying to persuade the former TV journalist to join the government to strengthen his fragile ruling coalition.

The Prime Minister had congratulated Lamichhane over the phone immediately after he was elected, and he again congratulated him during their meeting on Sunday, Press Coordinator Surya Kiran Sharma said.

The RSP was the third largest member of the ruling coalition in Nepal before quitting the government after Prachanda denied Lamichhane’s reinstatement to the post of Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister after his citizenship controversy.

Lamichhane’s Parliament membership was revoked by the Supreme Court earlier this year after he was found guilty of not producing a valid citizenship certificate to contest the parliamentary election. He was compelled to obtain back his citizenship and prepare for the by-election.

The RSP has not yet withdrawn its support to the Prachanda-led coalition government, though its ministers had already quit the government.

The ruling eight-party coalition includes the Nepali Congress, Communist Party Nepal-Maoist Centre, CPN-Unified Socialist, Nagarik Unmukti Party, Janamat Party, Janta Samajwadi Party, Lokatantrik Samajwadi Party and Rashtriya Janamorcha.