Nepali Times Asian Paints
Getting down to business


In its desperation to get to power, the Maoists made huge compromises in the last week's parliament election for a new prime minister. It offered half the ministries to the Madhesi alliance to ensure the victory of its candidate, Baburam Bhattarai. He won comfortably with a margin of 105 votes.

The popular move to ride on a Mustang was a perfect score, and confirmed to a public largely positive about the new prime minister's intellect and honesty. However, any prolonged delay in giving shape to the cabinet will invite criticism at a time when people are desperate to see immediate changes.

The 4-point deal, signed at the eleventh hour with the Madhesi alliance, once again exposes the fact that leaders enter into agreements without adequate homework, or perhaps with the deliberate intention of never keeping their promises.


Adviser to Baburam Bhattarai and politburo member, Devendra Poudel, says the media should not have a knee-jerk reaction to compromises in coalition agreements. "There is a lot of give and take, and there are many factors that come into play," Poudel told us on Wednesday.

Maoist lawmaker Jaypuri Gharti had refused to join the last government demanding 33 percent representation for the women, sparking off a debate in the party which ultimately led different factions to unite against party chairman's unilateral decision. Bhattarai seems to have learn a lesson from that, and is striving to balance gender, ethnicity, geographic regions as well as the political leanings of cabinet members.

But there are other problems for Bhattarai. The Maoist ministers who joined the last government at the later stage could stay in their post for only 13 days, and some of them have expressed their desire to stay on. However, having doled out half the cabinet posts (many of them "powerful" ones) to his Madhesi partners there aren't too many left for his own party aspirants.

And then there are the members of what has come to be known as the "Dhobighat Cluster", the hardliners from the Kiran faction that met in Patan last month to clip party chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal's wings. For Bhattarai, it's payback time to them too, especially senior leaders who have not been in power before.

The Madhesi alliance is also engaged in finalising the list of those that will join the government. "We have differences within the alliance on issues, not over the portfolios," explains Raj Kishor Yadav, co-chairperson of Madhesi People's Rights Forum (Republican), adding optimistically that the cabinet will take final shape very soon.

Bhattarai met NC president Sushil Koirala on Tuesday in a bid to bring the NC onboard. Koirala is reported to have advised the PM to make a significant progress in the peace process and implement the past agreement within the promised 45 days before NC could consider joining the government.

"Personally, we don't have any doubts about Bhattarai's capability to deliver, but we are not sure if his party will cooperate," says Deep Kumar Upadhya. But Maoist leader Paudel told Nepali Times Bhattarai has the full support of his party. "This time, the party unanimously passed two things: Bhattarai's candidacy and the issue of integration," he says. "We are very serious about the peace process."

The only differences the Maoists and NC have is about integration, he added, it is not about numbers but of modality. The Maoists argue for a "dignified integration" which means recruiting their fighters as full soldiers, while NC says they can not be taken as regular NA soldiers.

"Dignified integration means recruiting our fighters as full-fledged NA soldiers," Poudel says. NA has already recruited as many number of soldiers in five years of peace process as the numbers the Maoists have been demanding to be integrated.

The NC also has severe reservations about the four-point agreement, particularly the provision for mass amnesty to those accused of excesses during the conflict and the Madhes movement.

But, Upadhya adds: "Politics is full of possibilities, if significant progress is made in the peace process in 45 days, it will create an environment for the NC to join the government."

He says NC will be supportive to the government even if it is in the opposition and will evaluate its work on the basis of merit.


Prime Minister Bhattarai has his work cut out. Here is his check list in order of priority:

1. Complete the cabinet
2. Complete peace process in 45 days as promised
3. Keep NC and UML happy so they don't throw spanner in works
4. Hand over keys as a symbolic step. But regrouping and compromises on integration will be more difficult to push through
5. Keep one eye on Chairman Dahal, so he doesn't wreck things
6. Back track on amnesty provision on 4-point deal, this will be a major stumbling block with opposition and international community
7. Constitution, take the bull by the horns on ethnic federalism and state structure
8. Show the presence of the state, tackle law and order
9. Improve investment climate, tame unions
10. Hunker down for 18-hour power cuts this winter

Read also:
Make or break

Keep the flame of truth burning, EDITORIAL

Peace or ceasefire?, ANURAG ACHARYA
Time to move beyond symbolism to real progress on integration and rehabilitation of ex-guerrillas

From JNU to Kathmandu, JYOTI MALHOTRA
Baburam Bhattarai: "We were too ambitious Öwhile India underestimated our strength."

1. who cares
this is the coalition govt of foreign agents, foreigners, anti nations, looters, criminals. 

2. asdf
You decimate all the home grown industries, brainwash the labour available for cheap votes, have almost most worthwhile people leave the country for better opportunities abroad, and now you try to revive the "Made in Nepal" tag by riding the Mustang! Bravo! 

3. Danny Birch
" perhaps with the deliberate intention of never keeping their promises." 

Why do you say perhaps. How can anyone believe anything the Maoists, Congress, UML or other parties' leaders promise. They have all involved themselves in destroying a society and nation to satisfy their own greed for power. They have taken what was twenty or twenty-five years ago a peaceful nation with solvable problems, and ruined it for their personal gain and power. 

4. Arthur
"7. Constitution, take the bull by the horns on ethnic federalism and state structure"
Wow! Did Nepali Times just say that federalism should proceed rapidly despite the hostility of most of the KTM elite, including UMLs and NC?

Or is it so used to talking to itself that it has forgotten "take the bull by the horns" could be understood in two opposite ways?

As for the rest, I suppose it is more polite than commencing virulent attacks in the very first week.
But wouldn't it be more useful to discuss what compromises others should now make?

5. who cares

you still do have guts and no dignity to comment even after being humiliated by your lord himself. 

can you repeat what you said about general katwal's case, raising street protest against delhi, calling NC enemy?

today the master himself (puspa if you remember him) has come out honestly. he is saying it was wrong from them trying to sack katwal, he did it cause of their internal tension. 

it was foolishness of them to insult delhi.

it was wrong of them calling NC enemy. 

what do you say about all those clarification? if you do not trust me, google it. 

go and buy some dignity and stop barking foolishly.

6. Arthur
#5, yes I do still think it was right to sack Katwal, protest against Indian interference in Nepal's politics and brand NC as an enemy.

The result is that the NA has had to accept that there will be integration of the two armies despite Katwal's absolute rejection of integration, India has had to back off and accept that Nepal cannot be governed without the Maoist party and NC has become rather irrelevant.

The long delay before anti-Maoists had to accept the obvious, may still be prolonged some more. But the longer NC holds out against the peace agreement it accepted, the more irrelevant it will become.

Incidentally it seems NC agrees that its refusal to support a national unity government has made it more irrelevant:

It would be surprising if the UMLs thought they have done very well either.

I haven't seen anything from Prachanda recently, but I did notice this US embassy analysis of Maoist "grandiose claims of imminent victory" in the CA elections:

7. Gheo Chaku Naran.
BauRam Bhattarai is now The CHIEF MINISTER of  the State called Nepal so we all can now die in peace!
Congratulations  Kamred Mohan Baidya Kiran and co.

8. Narendra Adhikari
Mr.  Baburam Bhattarai -  you are the same man who had a big hand in killing 17000 Nepalis. You are the same man who is responsible for pushing Nepal back to the dark age. BUT .. I will give a chance.  We need jobs for Nepalis. How about electricity... are u not ashamed that Nepal has 14 hrs of power cut...that is like no pterol in Saudia Arabia. Stop the bull shit with politics... if you can actually kill innocent Nepali man, woman and child,  surely u can get rid of these filthy, stinking corrupt politicians...I also want you to bargain very hard with India on our rights as a nation and people. The days of Indian domination should be over. You are just one man... what M K Ghandhi was also one man,  Martin L King was just one man, Nelson Mandela was just one man.  Mr. Prime Minister do not let us down.       

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)