Daunting tasks ahead for Nepal’s new PM Prachanda

Kathmandu, Aug 4 (IANS) Mounting challenges on the domestic and external fronts are set to test the political acumen of CPN(Maoist Centre) leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal aka ‘Prachanda’, who will be administered the oath of office and secrecy as Nepal Prime Minister on Thursday by President Bidhya Devi Bhandari.

His task is not easy, given the fact that Nepal stands at the very crossroads of political and constitutional history.

There are certain agendas of which he knew well before he became the Prime Minister — striking a fine political balance among deeply-divided political ideologies, moving ahead with political consensus and fulfilling the promises he made during his speech in parliament before his election as the new Prime Minister, seven-point understanding with the Nepali Congress ahead of the exit of K.P. Sharma Oli-led government, and a three-point agreement with agitating Samuktya Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha.

Prachanda is beset with limitations too. He is sharing power with the Nepali Congress, the largest party in the house.

He needs the crucial support of the opposition Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist-Leninist too, since the new Constitution cannot be amended without two-thirds vote needed to redress the grievances of the Madhes parties.

Without the support of Madhesi parties, it was almost impossible for him to get elected as the Prime Minister with resounding vote in parliament.

In the long run, Prachanda has to prove better than his predecessor Sharma Oli in implementing the new Constitution, and address the demands of Madhes parties, accelerate reconstruction work post quake, complete the task of transitional justice mechanism and strike a balance between India and China on the political front.

If he cannot prove himself better, Prachanda’s success in toppling the previous government would be rendered meaningless. And he has short time on his hands to prove himself — he will be the Prime Minister for nine months only as per his agreement with the Nepali Congress.

“I will try to move ahead with national consensus during my premiership,” Prachanda said in a statement on Wednesday, minutes before he was elected to the post.

“… we should come together on major issues and agendas. As Prime Minister, I will shun the politics of prejudice and politics of denial,” Prachanda assured the house.

“We hope and expect that the promise made to us will be fulfilled,” said a prominent Madhesi leader Upendra Yadav, while supporting his bid to the top political post.

Other contentious matter Prachanda faces is over 53,000 cases of human rights abuses committed during the decade-long Maoist insurgency and now registered with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Similarly, expediting the national reconstruction work after the massive earthquake on April 25, 2015, is another key issue he has to engage with.

The Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre) leader’s second stint as Nepal Prime Minister would not count for much if he is unable to prove his mettle in tackling various problems facing his Himalayan country.

The resignation of the then Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli on July 24 paved the way for Prachanda to become the 39th Prime Minister after the Nepali Congress and Madhes-based parties pledged to support him.

(Anil Giri can be reached at girianil@ians.in)

–IANS

giri/tsb/vt

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