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    OpinionsPM Prachanda is finally cornered in the fluid Nepal Politics

    PM Prachanda is finally cornered in the fluid Nepal Politics


    New alliance of Nepali Congress and CPN-UML is sure to win no-confidence motion

    By Arun Kumar Shrivastav

    Nepal's tumultuous politics is once again at it, threatening to replace the current government with a new one. The one-and-a-half-year-old government headed by Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal; Prachanda; has been pushed to minority after the former Prime Minister KP Sharma;s CPN-UML with 78 members in the 275-member House of Representatives withdrew from the government on July 2. Prachanda, famously known in the Himalayan nation, has said he would not resign but face a no- confidence vote in the next 30 days. Prachanda's Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre) has 30 members in the House of Representatives.

    After hitting a deadlock with its former alliance partner, Nepali Congress, the single-largest party with 89 members, Prachanda forged an alliance with CPN-UML on March 4 and signed an 8-point agreement to run the  government on consensus. The differences in the alliance emerged after the recent , which supposedly did not go well with the Oli camp.

    While Prachanda has survived four no-confidence motions in the last one- and-a-half years by forging last-minute alliances with one of the two big parties, this time, both the big parties, Nepali Congress and CPN-UML, have come together to dislodge the wily Prachanda from power. They have agreed to a power-sharing formula that covers not only the national government but also the six provincial governments. Nepali Congress and CPN-UML have 167 members in parliament, way ahead of the majority of 128 seats.

    For the first one-and-a-half years, Oli will become the prime minister, and then the Nepali Congress will have its turn to appoint a prime minister from its party. Nepali Congress president Sher Bahadur Deuba is said to be an -favourite, while Oli is known for his China inclination.

    However, the power-sharing formula reached between the two biggest political parties in Nepal's politics doesn't pronounce a dead-end for Prachanda, who has been pursuing an independent policy as the Prime Minister and not giving in to pressures from the big parties. In regional South Asian politics, Prachanda has been steadily working to project the image that Kathmandu can take an independent stance and not give in to pressures from either India or China. Two notable developments in the recent past underscore Prachanda's refusal to come under pressure on important issues. In the first instance, his government cracked down on the Chaudhary Group, led by the country's only billionaire and politically influential Vinod Chaudhary. His brother Arun Chaudhary was arrested in February in a land-grab case dating back over 30 years.

    In another incident, China's ambassador to Nepal, Chen Song, was involved in an angry spat with a journalist on X (formerly Twitter). The point of contention was China charging an excessive interest rate for its loan to build Pokhara International Airport. The airport, commissioned in January was built by a Chinese company at a cost of $216 million.

    According to the media reports, Chinese lenders are charging a higher interest rate for loans than was formally agreed upon. To this, the Chinese ambassador, conspicuous by his over-enthusiasm for outdoor engagements, enjoying the country's rich and traditions, and attending even small events enthusiastically, reacted angrily, seeking the journalist to prove his allegations. In his reply, the journalist referred to government documents as the basis of his allegation and reminded the Chinese diplomat not to threaten journalists in a country where he is a guest. Chen Song moved on and soon posted a message rooting for the success of the Nepali cricket team. Subsequently, more similar messages followed.

    However, this spat sharply highlighted China's growing influence in Nepal. Unlike other politicians, Prachanda is not fond of making friends or being part of lobbies. He is a friend of neither China nor India. Even in Nepali politics, he prefers to remain aloof than hobnobbing with opportunistic elements. It explains why his party is not the biggest in his county despite his big political stature. His tenure as the Prime Minister hints at his understanding of how development can be brought to the people.

    For example, since January this year, leading international newspapers and magazines have been reporting how Nepal has become a luxury tourist destination, leaving behind its image of a hippy haven for backpackers. A travel writer took a 5-day trip to Muktinath in Mustang, costing him a whopping $7000. Nepal has seen rapid strides in attracting investments in luxury , and the country boasts high-budget facilities at premier tourist destinations. It has left behind Bhutan and is fast catching up with the Maldives in high-budget tourism.

    Prachanda's focus on the pro-people agenda is seen in several other areas. For example, a few days back, he rode a tractor in a muddy paddy field, stressing that he would make Nepal self-sufficient in rice production. While another government can replace Prachanda as the Prime Minister, replacing him from Nepal's collective psyche is difficult. (IPA Service)




    The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.

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