9-15 October 2015 #779


ALPHA MALES: Top leaders of the three major parties at a meeting in Baluwatar early this week.

As Nepal braces itself for a third week of blockade and nearly two months of Tarai-wide shutdown, it is becoming clear that the Madhesi people’s struggle has turned into a proxy war for New Delhi.

India has denied this is a blockade, and the international community is conspicuously quiet, wary of antagonising New Delhi. There is a near blackout on news about the Nepal blockade in the Indian press, and this does not seem important enough for the international media. 

But even Indian customs officials at the border are not trying to hide it anymore. This is an out and out blockade, let’s call it what it is. 

In Kathmandu talks have begun with Madhesi dissenters. Two meetings have been held and a third round is scheduled for Friday.

Law Minister Narhari Acharya has registered the first amendment bill of Nepal’s new constitution to address two major demands of Madhesi parties: proportional representation and demarcation of election constituencies in proportion to population in the Tarai.  

A parliamentary session is also scheduled for Friday to elect a new Prime Minister. But it looks impossible to secure consensus of all parties on any one name.

Therefore, Parliament will begin the process to form a majority government. The UML has already proposed its Chair KP Oli as prime minister with the backing of the UCPN(M). Even if NC does not abide by its deal with the UML, Oli is hoping to be elected with the backing of fringe parties. 

What Nepal now needs is a unity government capable of implementing the new constitution, ensuring political stability and expediting economic development. But before all that, dousing the fire in the Tarai and easing supply of essential commodities before Dasain is what all Nepalis want right now.