Nearly a month after elections, the six-party alliance plus the Maoists are meeting for the first time early on Friday morning to start setting up a new government. The bargaining is going to be prolonged, and they have three weeks to reach a consensus.
Most politicians were deep in strategy sessions all Thursday to decide on their positions, and had switched off their mobile phones. The arithmetic of the electoral results is such that the Maoists are the largest party, but don't have a clear majority. However, none of the other parties have the numbers to form a government on their own either.
The Maoists hold the trump card, and their central committee has come up with several scenarios: make Pushpa Kamal Dahal prime minsiter and form a government with or without the other parties.
"If it still doesn't work, we will be forced to go back to the people and relaunch our struggle," warned elder leader Mohan Baidya (Kiran).
Some in the NC are said to be keen on the idea of Girija Koirala remaining a ceremonial head of state, but this is opposed by NC young turks as well as the Maoists who want both the head of state and government from their party.
The UML is still licking its wounds, and says it will not join the government or support the Maoists until it disbands the PLA, turns the YCL into a fraternal organisation, returns seized property and stops attacking its cadre.
"The PLA and YCL are not issues that should be raised now," Maoist ideologue Baburam Bhattarai said in an interview on Wednesday, "We should focus on forming a government in which we wil have a say in policy but will work on the basis of consensus."
The parties are expected to decide not to have a supplementary budget for the interim because Rs 38 billion from the current fiscal year remain unspent.