Nepali Times
My Take
Seizing the moment


Now that Ram Chandra Poudel of the Nepali Congress has withdrawn his candidacy for the post of prime minister, the spotlight shifts back to Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal and UML chief Jhalanath Khanal, the two other men who want the country's top executive post.

The onus is also on these two men to provide a way out of the political impasse that has impeded progress on the peace process and drafting of the constitution.

There are two ways to go about power-sharing, concluding the peace process, and writing the constitution. One of which is perpetuating the current climate of mistrust and division among and within the political parties. The other is simply implementing what the leaders have been saying: strike a consensus.

With just four and a half months months left for the extended tenure of the Constituent Assembly, can we finally have a prime minister to replace our caretaker?

Let us look at Khanal's prospects. Powerful leaders within his own party, PM Nepal and KP Oli, will do everything in their power to scuttle their party chairman's chances of becoming prime minister with Maoist support. Dahal is willing to lend support since that meets his three objectives: ending an alliance between NC and UML; intensifying the division within UML, a rival communist party (after all, elections will have to be fought); and extracting a heavy price from a Khanal-led government.

Khanal will not only have to compromise significantly with Dahal's Maoists, he will also have to effectively relinquish UML's reins to Nepal and Oli. Will he risk this? It depends on how desperate he is to become prime minister.

Dahal knows he cannot become prime minister with the support of UML, which is sharply divided. He still can be the prime minister if a significant number of Madhes-based parties, which command 82 seats in the 601-member assembly (now 598 after the death of a UML lawmaker) lend support to his party, which has 238 seats.

This would mean the second and third largest parties sitting in the opposition and an angry NC and UML unwilling to cooperate with the government on peace-related issues and the writing of the constitution, which requires a two-thirds majority of the CA for approval.

Dahal knows this too well and only his desperation to go back to Baluwatar might blind him to ground realities. So he might try a repeat of the Kul Bahadur Khadka episode.

Back in 2009, Khadka was second-in-rank in the Nepal Army. In return for elevation to army chief, he was willing to accept anything the Maoists proposed on integration of ex-Maoist combatants into the Nepal Army. Army chief Rookmangud Katawal had to be sacked, for Khadka's retirement was nearing. Then prime minister Dahal tried to do so, under the guise of establishing 'civilian supremacy', and immediately named Khadka the acting chief of army staff. Fortunately, the president intervened then. Khanal is nearly as ready as Khadka to do the Maoist's bidding now.

Besides, not claiming leadership of the government for his party would suit Dahal more in the current scheme of things. He can keep out Baburam Bhattarai, his party colleague and rival for the post of prime minister, and mollycoddle his party's hardliners, who do not want the party to join the government.

Dahal or Khanal, it won't solve our problems if a government is formed without NC and UML on board. So it is back to what is really needed: Dahal has to meet his side of the bargain on peace-related agreements, and that will be reflected in the agreement on making integration and rehabilitation of ex-combatants smooth and fast. NC and UML then need to accept a Maoist party-led government and together they should go about implementing the tasks that remain.

Vacuum ahead, PRASHANT JHA
Diagnosis of death, INDU NEPAL
Ignorant crusaders, ASHUTOSH TIWARI

1. who cares
Let us look at Khanal's prospects. Po.... i agree. 

Khanal will not only have to compromise significantly with Dahal's Maoists, he will also have to effectivel ....... .... agreed 

"Khanal is nearly as ready as Khadka to do the Maoist's bidding now."  ha ha .

ROTATION IS A GOOD ONE AT PRESENT IF PLAYED RIGHT.  nc-maoist-uml...... make all needed peace and constitution agreements and implement/begin the major agreements - complete the agreements- go for the election. 

2. Arthur
Katawal was sacked for refusing integration.

The writer denounces Khadka because he might have accepted the orders of the government to carry out integration of the two armies as required by the peace agreement.

Then the writer demands that Dahal should produce "agreement on making integration and rehabilitation of ex-combatants smooth and fast".

This childish argument denouncing the Maoists both for insisting on integration and failing to make integration "smooth and fast" reflects the writer's contempt for the readers.

He believes that anti-Maoist readers will simply agree with anything said against the Maoists, even when it is completely self-contradictory.

He may be right. But what hope do the anti-Maoists have if their supporters really are as stupid as he thinks?

3. rishav
The Maoists have always proved one thing there not trust worthy! Come on how much can trust someone whose main objective, clear to everyone to see, is ultimately to destroy multiparty democracy and freedom of speech.

The Katwal episode was complete egg on the face for Dahal, making him appear foolish and highlighting his weaknesses. Even after leaving the Government he felt he could stil pressurise things from outside into his party's favour, we saw where that got him, ultimately having to back track and know return as an humble dog to the negotiating table. It is good he has signed the 3 point agreement to allow effectively the NA representatives to head AISC commitee taking control of the Maoist guerilla force. Things will speed up now, whilst the UN leaves, the Maoist having to concede a few important cards, which was inevitable anyway.

4. Skeptic Thurpunsich

Dahal, Khanal, Poudyal, Nepal?

Hmm... what's the difference?

Where's Nani Maiya, when we need her the most?

I mean, folks, these people are squabbling in the name of national politics, when Nepal, after who cares how many years following internal independence, is still reeling from no water, no electricity, no food, no sanitation, no highways, no goretos, no pati, no pauwa, and so on and so damn forth.

Let a nerd Zuckerberg buy Nepal and run it. 

I'm sick of it all now. And, quite skeptic, to say the least.

5. Rajan

Its clear that you know little about Nepal and its politics. Katawal was sacked because of a row over whether the army should be controlled by the civilian government or the Maoists. What happened was that the Maoist defense minister forced eight NA generals into retirement, when such an action would ordinarily be taken on the recommendation of the military (even during the democracy era of 1990-2002)

Meanwhile, the military was recruiting soldiers, which the Maoists claimed was against the peace agreement. The military justified this by stating that they were filling up new vacancies only. The Maoists probably had the moral ground on the second argument, except for the fact that a video emerged in which Prachanda spoke about how the Maoists had inflated their own strength to continue recruiting soldiers into the PLA. 

My point is this. On the surface Katawal was sacked for refusing integration. But the fact was that he was reluctant to integrate the Maoists into the military in such a way that turned the Nepali Army into a military arm of the UCPN (Maoists).

And if you're one of those people who supports the Maoists because they are changing the power structure in Nepal, don't be fooled. While the Maoists aren't the boogie man that some people thought they would be, they are as corrupt, incompetent, and factional as all the other parties in Nepal.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)