Dahal’s time is limited, as he must step down in nine months to make way for the NC’s Sher Bahadur Deuba
Pushpa Kamal Dahal
The fact that someone whose position fell to #3 in the 2013 polls is set to become prime minister for the second time is Nepali politics in a nutshell. The CPN (Maoist-Centre) Chair has played deft kingmaker, carving out a political space for himself between the NC and the UML, and mending bridges with New Delhi. But Dahal’s time is limited, as he must step down in nine months to make way for the NC’s Sher Bahadur Deuba.
In a party meeting on Wednesday, he said: “This is my last chance.” Dahal has his eye on the three elections next year, and he wants to tinker with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Act.
K P Oli
When KP Oli became PM last August, Nepal had just been ravaged by an earthquake and the Tarai was starting to burn. Then the economy took a direct hit from the Indian Blockade. He tried to fix relations with India, but spooked New Delhi by signing the Trade and Transit Treaty with Beijing. He played the nationalist card to the hilt to hide failures in governance and post-earthquake recovery. Oli is down but not out. The fact that New Delhi described his ouster as a victory has actually made Oli stronger. Now he can play the patriot to stage a comeback.
Bidya Devi Bhandari
She may be a ceremonial President, but Bidya Devi Bhandari has a significant role during this uncertain political transition. Acting on a decision by the Cabinet of outgoing PM Oli, with whom she is close, she issued a presidential order to remove constitutional hurdles that would have prevented Parliament from electing a new PM. Using residual powers, she has given the political parties one week for a consensus government. Dahal is meeting UML leaders, but knows this is a formality. Bhandari will then give the parties three days to form a majority government headed by Dahal.
Sher Bahadur Deuba
The NC President is not becoming PM just yet, but his party will get at least 13 cabinet berths, including the Home Ministry, in the new government. After nine months, Dahal will resign and support Deuba for PM until provincial and parliamentary elections. Deuba may have irked the Tharus by refusing to give them a province in the far western Tarai, but Madhesis now support him because he unseated the unpopular Oli. If Deuba gets the Madhesis on board, his party will do well in the Tarai in the next elections. After being out of power for over a decade, Deuba is all set to become PM for the fourth time next year.
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