The Return Of Maoists In Nepal?

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KATHMANDU – Plagued by a spreading Maoist insurgency in its own backyard, India now faces the spectre of a new Maoist-led government coming to power in Nepal in the wake of Prime Minister Jhala Nath Khanal’s resignation on Sunday night

With President Ram Baran Yadav on Monday giving the major parties till Sunday to form a national government, the Maoists, the largest party in parliament, seem the frontrunners. Maoist deputy chief Dr Baburam Bhattarai said he had been endorsed by the party leadership as the next prime minister. However, the Jawaharlal Nehru University scholar would have to woo the other large parties, including the opposition Nepali Congress, to become Nepal’s 35th premier

It will be a tough task with the Nepali Congress beginning a double-pronged campaign to head the new government. Ram Chandra Poudel, who was the party’s prime ministerial candidate in the last 17 rounds of election that finally saw Khanal turn the tables on him with Maoist support, is still in the fray. Moreover, so is Sher Bahadur Deuba, former prime minister who had in the past split the party vertically following a leadership tussle.

The three-cornered fight makes it unlikely that Nepal will get a consensus government by Sunday. Then the next step would be for the president to call for the formation of a majority government where the Maoists have an edge, being the largest party.