Maoists blame India for failure to form government

By Sudeshna Sarkar, IANS,

Kathmandu : Failing to meet two deadlines given by the president to form a new government, Nepal’s former Maoist guerrillas have begun blaming neighbour India for the impasse.

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“Under the manipulation of South Block (Indian foreign ministry), regressive forces are trying to isolate our party,” Maoist Minister for Local Development Dev Gurung said here.

The Maoist leader said his party could not form a consensus government with the support of the other major parties because of a conspiracy by caretaker Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala and his Nepali Congress party.

The Nepali Congress, he said, was seeking to disrupt the peace process and was backed by the Indian government.

Though the Maoists emerged as the biggest party after the April election, yet four months later, they are still unable to come up with a new government primarily due to a deepening feud with Koirala over power sharing.

While traditionally the prime minister has held the defence portfolio, Koirala is seeking the ministry now for his party, a demand that was rejected outright by the Maoists. Subsequently, it resulted in their failure to name a new consensus prime minister within the two deadlines extended by President Ram Baran Yadav.

The Nepali Congress says it is insisting on the defence ministry so that there is a balance of power in a Maoist-led government.

“Our stand is not for personal gains,” Nepali Congress Minister for Peace and Reconstruction Ram Chandra Poudel said. “It is for peace and democracy.”

Faced with a failure by the four major parties to cooperate, the president Sunday formally asked the newly elected constituent assembly – that also serves as the interim parliament – to initiate measures for holding a prime ministerial election.

The Maoists now face a new acid test as the 595-member assembly will choose a new premier from among the 25 parliamentary parties.

Maoist supremo Prachanda, who has announced his intention to stake claim to the post, will need to acquire simple majority during the vote.

Though the former rebels are the largest party with 227 members now, they lost the presidential election last month to an alliance between the NC, the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (UML) and Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (MJF).

There are indications that the Nepali Congress might field a candidate, who could be 83-year-old Koirala himself.

Both the MJF and a section of the UML have also expressed a desire to get the coveted post.

Koirala’s claims were strengthened after his attending the 15th SAARC Summit in Colombo this month and subsequent meetings with Indian leaders, who have been urging for a national government that would include the Neapli Congress.

The support spiked the Maoist contingency plan to form a minority government if they failed to win over the other parties.

Now the election holds the key to the new government and future of Nepal.

The minor Left parties, who are supporting the Maoists, have warned Koirala that there would be fresh turbulence if he tried to form a government without the former guerrillas.