This last-minute failure to meet President Ram Baran Yadav's fourth deadline to form a consensus government to take the country to elections has exposed the widening rift between the two top Maoist leaders. It has brought back memories of 2004, when Dahal actually had Bhattarai, his wife and other loyalists arrested and tortured because of a clash over ideology.
Dahal is determined to replace Bhattarai before their party's convention on 3 February, and Bhattarai is equally determined to cling on to power. Both are competing to expand their control over the party with the break off of the Baidya group earlier this year. This intra-party feud is impacting directly on national politics, and prolonging the deadlock over the formation of an all-party election government.
President Yadav extended the deadline for government formation for the fifth time, and would like to wrap things up before his visit to India on Monday. But it is unlikely that Bhattarai will give in to Dahal's pressure to remove him from office at least till the convention in February.