The Communist Party of Nepal (CPN-M) which has almost won the Nepali CA Poll results with a widening victory margin is actively engaged in broad based political parley with other Nepali political parties in order to form a new united democratic government of Nepal. In its continuing talks with the CPN-United Marxist Leninists (UML), Nepali Congress and other coalition partners, it has stressed the message of national unity amidst geographical diversity. The Maoist led government could be in place within three weeks.
Earlier to the April 10 CA Poll, Prachanda had proposed a broad coalition of the Leftists along with the smaller parties. But according to reliable Nepali media sources, since the other parties did not take Prachanda’s national unity call seriously before the CA Poll and went individually to the Nepali voters, they had to face appalling voter rejection. Nepal’s Maoists who had the first real taste of government only in January 2007, have managed to garner 116 seats in the First Past the Post system leading counts in Proportional Representation votes as well. The closest rivals have been NC with 33, UML with 31 and MPRF with 24.
Nepal’s 601 seater Constituent Assembly is planning to meet symbolically in the Birendra International Convention Center in Baneswore in about a month’s time. However, even the BICC, Nepal’s only international convention center, does not have the requisite seating arrangements to cater to such a huge parliament which will require some quick physical and logistical refurbishment. This has proven a boon for the Maoists to improve external consultations where their emphasis has been on fielding technocratic expertise to fill in the more prominent cabinet positions. The Maoists will hold on to the majority of sensitive ministries such as Foreign, Defense, Finance, the National Planning Commission, Education and Home. The Maoists had earlier fielded some of their leaders under the SPA, such as Hisilia Yami, Krishna Bahadur Mahara, Pampha Bhusal, and Dev Gurung to try out their skills and help them interact with other political parties as well. The Maoist ministers were generally rated as a cut above the rest by Kathmandu based diplomats and international organizations since they left a good impression of being able to deliver efficient public services to the Nepali people and practice honest governance.
On Wednesday, Prachanda and Dr. Babu Ram Bhattarai acknowledged in front of Nepal’s private sector and industrial representatives that their party has received a once in a life time opportunity to serve the Nepali people, and therefore, they would work selflessly to promote the Nepali people’s interests at all times. During this first Maoist interaction after the CA Poll, Dr. Babu Ram Bhattarai presented an economic development scenario, whereby Nepal would be marketed as an open-liberal transitional democratic economy relying on public-private partnerships and free from any political bias. Bhattarai also acknowledged the country’s crucial and sensitive position sandwiched between two of the world’s fasted spurting economies, India and China, but where he foresaw Nepal as having unlimited potential for economic growth. Bhattarai’s views were received with much enthusiasm by Kathmandu’s private sector representatives and industrialists. Prachanda, in turn, assured the crowd s there would be no room for tyranny, and full respect for global democratic norms in serving the Nepali people. He reminded his audience that this was an international election with the whole world watching and participating.
Meanwhile, the UML’s resignation from the Koirala SPA has given rise to a fresh political dilemma for the Maoists, since theoretically they are still in the current Koirala coalition government. Yesterday, Prachanda and Dr. Bhattarai met Madhav Kumar Nepal, former General Secretary of UML. Prachanda asked UML to help him form a new partnership government. This was also M.K. Nepal’s last meeting as officiating UML General Secretary since he was forced to resign taking responsibility for UML’s recent poll setback. UML is known to be open about the Maoist proposal, according to senior UML leader Bharat Mohan Adhikari, who once served as Nepal’s Finance Minister. The UML standing committee is expected to make a decision next week. The CPN-UML is still considered a principled and popular leftist party in Nepal with a huge urban voter base, until its recent unexpected defeat. One of its most outspoken members, Raghuji Pant, a popular journalist by profession, who recently lost his seat to a Maoist contender in Lalitpur district, has stated the reason for UML’s poor show due to misjudging Nepali urban voters, particularly women and the liberal thinking younger generation who got attracted by the Maoists’ catchy slogans. Prachanda also diplomatically flouted to the UML leadership the need for continued “seven party” unity, though in truth, it is now a bygone proposal.
India’s Ambassador to Nepal Shiv Shanker Mukherjee, has once again expressed the Indian Government’s full fledged and unconditional assistance to help Nepal in the unfolding democratic scenario. He has promised India’s assistance in fostering stability, sustainable development and strengthening democracy. Both India and the US have wholeheartedly welcomed the CA Poll as a resounding democratic achievement of the Nepali people. The global community, including the EU, Japan, China and the UN has already welcomed the CA Poll exercise as a huge Nepali success despite some isolated incidences of violence.
Yesterday, Prachanda also had a long and serious phone discussion with India’s Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee where the two interacted broadly on Indo-Nepal relations given the unfurling democratic political scenario. Mukherjee is known to have assured Prachanda on India’s desire to work closely with the new Nepal Government and to focus on heightened economic cooperation and genuine people based development initiatives that will help the Nepali people resurge back on the road to economic prosperity soon.
(Surya B. Prasai is an independent global strategic communications, media, and international development resource consultant who writes frequently for this and other global media)
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