Maoist MP who cast slur on Indian official quits

By Sudeshna Sarkar, IANS,

Kathmandu : A Maoist MP who triggered a furore with his allegation that an Indian Embassy official in Kathmandu had threatened him has now quit even as his former party threatened to expel him.

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Ram Kumar Sharma, a politician from the southern Terai plains, whipped up a storm earlier this month by going to the media with the allegation that an official from the Indian Embassy had threatened him for supporting Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda during the prime ministerial elections.

The embassy rejected the allegation as well demands by the Maoists that the official be recalled.

Sharma was elected to parliament in 2008 from the Terai Madhes Loktantrik Party.

However, about a year ago, he quit the party, once the fifth largest in parliament, to join the Maoists, who are the largest party after the election.

Even as his allegations catapulted Sharma in the limelight and compelled Nepal’s foreign ministry to begin an investigation, the Terai party took him to task, asking him to explain why he had crossed over to the Maoists.

As it became apparent that the Terai party would sack Sharma, the MP moved to pre-empt it by submitting his resignation as a parliament member Wednesday.

Now Nepal’s 601-seat parliament is again short of two MPs.

While Sharma quit, a senior Maoist lawmaker, Ram Kumari Yadav, died last week of severe burn injuries contracted during a domestic accident.

Since both had been elected to parliament, the Election Commission will now have to call fresh elections in their constituencies within six months to fill the vacuum.

Sharma claimed he would fight the election once again. However, it was not known immediately if the Maoists would field him.

When the fifth round of election to choose a new prime minister is held Monday, Sharma’s resignation and Yadav’s death will shear Prachanda of two votes.

In the last election, he won only 213 votes, falling short of simple majority by 88.

Neither Prachanda nor his rival, Nepali Congress party leader Ram Chandra Poudel, has been able to muster the 301 votes required to lead the new government, creating a protracted stalemate.

Though it is now nearly two months since Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal resigned under Maoist pressure, the warring parties have not yet been able to elect a new premier.

(Sudeshna Sarkar can be contacted at [email protected])