Two political leaders who were once ready to kill each other joined hands this week to form a new government.
Maoist leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal suddenly switched sides, abandoning Prime Minister KP Oli for Sher Bahadur Deuba of the Nepali Congress. They agreed to take turns to be prime minister for the next 18 months.
The new-found friendship between these former foes could prove costly. The first casualty will be the Constitution that all three leaders pushed through last year.
Deuba was prime minister when the Maoists went to war in February 1996. In 2002, when he was prime minister for the second time, Deuba put a price on Dahal’s head. Dahal in turn ordered his guerrillas to kill Deuba, and he narrowly escaped a Maoist attack in Kailali.
Politics makes for strange bedfellows, but who would have predicted that Dahal and Deuba would one day be best buddies?
Oli foiled an earlier attempt to unseat him in May by charming Dahal out of an alliance with Deuba. This time the Maoist- NC ties seem stronger, and the deal allows Dahal to be prime minister first, to be replaced by Deuba after local elections in December and until provincial and parliamentary polls.
The Maoists registered a no-confidence motion against the government on Wednesday, but Oli has refused to step down, preparing instead to face a vote in Parliament this weekend.
But the arithmetic is against him. Madhesi and other fringe parties are backing the NC-Maoists, so Dahal is on course to be the next prime minister.
Seven years after a humiliating resignation following his failure to oust the Army chief, Dahal may be Nepal’s 24th prime minister in 26 years. But he will be looking over his shoulder warily at Deuba and Oli.