Nepali Times
Headline
Third time lucky?


SUBASH DEVKOTA


There are still plenty of things that can go wrong between now and then, but the seven parties have agreed on a date for elections for the constituent assembly by April.

Just announcing an election date of course doesn't mean there is going to be one. There have been two abortive attempts in June and November 2007.

But this time it is different. Maoist hardliners, who had been putting their leadership under pressure not to agree to polls, are now on board. The NC, which had previously resorted to delaying tactics, has run out of excuses. The election commission, which had wanted 90 days for preparation, will have a comfortable margin for preparations this time.

Still, there are spoilers. The main problem is the unrest in the madhes, which is reaching boiling point. All madhesi groups have announced separate but coordinated agitation starting on 19 January, the anniversary of the uprising that flared up a year ago after a demonstrator was killed.

he royalist and centre-right political parties also don't want elections because the polls will automatically set the country on the path to republicanism. Kamal Thapa's RPP Nepal party held its first big rally in Kathmandu on Monday, questioning the right of the seven parties to abolish the monarchy.

This week's spat between the army chief and prime minister on one side and the Maoists on the other, over integration of the two armies, appears to have been a deliberate attempt to provoke a Maoist reaction and weaken Pushpa Kamal Dahal's position within his party during a crucial central committee meeting.

The cabinet has finally understood the issue of madhesi under-representation and tried to appease tarai activists by inducting two madhesi ministers, including Ram K Chaudhary as State Minister for Home Affairs and Formula Mansur as Minister of Science and Technology. Koirala has also brought in his own daughter, Sujata, as minister without portfolio.

The two new UML appointees are also from the madhes: Ram K Yadav who has been promoted to Minister of Public Administration and Nagendra Chaudhary is State Minister for Agriculture. Of the seven new appointees to the interim parliament, five are from the madhes.

But these moves may have come too late for radicalised madhesi groups who had wanted Krishna Sitaula removed and replaced by a madhesi home minister.



LATEST ISSUE
638
(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)


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