Sunday, September 19, 2010

Nepal more updates and reactions

Here is the contour of the agreement between CPN (ML) and CPN (M).

Sources say, there has been an agreement to make Jhala Nath Khanal the Prime Minister if a two-third majority is created and Pushpa Kamal Dahal the Prime Minister if only a simple majority is created. However, CPN (UML) leaders have not given any official response to the Maoist claim. They have neither refuted nor supported Maoist claim of the efforts to form a coalition. CPN (UML), with 108 seats, and UCPN (Maoists), with 237, seats will have a clear majority together. If the Madhes-based parties also support them, they can form a two-thirds majority without support of Nepali Congress (NC).

One can understand the reluctance of CPN (ML) to verify such claims. Probably the Marxist-Leninist are working to pull the Madhes front, which has 82 members, into the camp. That will make it 237 + 108 + 82 = 427 > 401, needed for a two-third majority. Jhalanath Khanal had earlier claimed that he was within 10 seats of 401, before he pulled out of the race, due to last minute breakdowns. Is this a saving-face mission? Possible. If so, Jhalanath's stature could rise even within the faction-ridden CPN (ML) camp. All for the better in future bargaining. Whatever it is, the Indian camp cant resist rubbing it in, even if unofficially.

Reaction from Telegraph: Linky

But for all that, Delhi is content to have successfully circumvented Prachanda’s return as head of government and keep in place a precarious power balance in Kathmandu that it can manoeuvre from time to time. On the face of it, the pro-active Indian mission in Kathmandu allays any suggestions of an interventionist role. Speaking to a leading Nepali weekly, ambassador Rakesh Sood assumed a duly correct hands-off tone. “Political stability,” he said, “is first and foremost the task of the Nepali political leadership…. It is not Indian policy that can bring about political stability but the desire and commitment of Nepali political leadership. As in the past, India has always indicated its willingness to support the efforts of the Nepali political leaders.”

Events over the past few months, though, would suggest a higher level of Indian intercession than what ambassador Sood, or the foreign office, would admit to. Especially when it has come to blockading Prachanda’s attempts at regaining power. When first elected Prime Minister as head of the largest party following the elections of 2008, Prachanda had been welcomed by India, if only grudgingly. Delhi had woefully misread the underpinnings of that campaign and a little startled that the Maoists had swept far ahead of the competition. Even so, it greeted the Maoists’ entry into the mainstream and hoped, perhaps, that they would slowly get co-opted into accepting the parameters of working under the Indian sphere of influence.

That expectation was jolted when Prachanda sought to install his own man as Nepali army chief, a move that India not only opposed but also saw as a sign that the Maoists would assert themselves more in power than the other Nepali political parties. The crisis over the army chief culminated in Prachanda’s resignation, and the suspicions that erupted from the episode have yet to die down. Each time Prachanda has looked close to tipping the scales in his favour, something has happened to scatter away the support he shored up among non-Maoist parties, especially the four Madhesi (Terai) parties who together account for 82 Constituent Assembly seats and could well have swung things Prachanda’s way.

Delhi has effected a few sophisticated interventions. Like the sudden Kathmandu visit, between the third and fourth rounds of polling, of Shyam Saran as the Prime Minister’s roving emissary. Saran, a former ambassador widely respected in Nepal, called Madhesi members of the Constituent Assembly for dinner during his trip and is believed to have argued against a vote for Prachanda. Saran’s counsel worked.

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