Nepal: A fresh start?

Madhav Kumar Nepal, Image courtesy Wikipedia

Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal, Image by Utudanuki, Wikipedia

After weeks of wrangling among political parties in Nepal, veteran Communist leader and former general secretary of Nepal communist party (United Marxist and Leninist) (CPN UML) Madhav Kumar Nepal was “selected” as Nepal's prime minister. Mr. Nepal's job, especially at this point, brings a heavy baggage of problems-some of which could potentially torpedo his government.

Foreign policy is on top of his to-do list. Neighboring India recently re-elected the coalition lead by Congress party and China is showing renewed interest in Nepal's strategic position in the region. Nishchal N. Pandey at NepalNews comments on “Prime Minister Nepal’s Foreign Policy Priorities”:

“The manner with which our leaders have cheapened themselves by repetitively making the same mistake of frequently meeting foreign envoys to ask their advice on domestic political developments has taken its toll on the authority and respectability of the Nepali state as a whole. Therefore, the first foreign policy priority of newly appointed Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal should be to invite the Prime Minister of India Dr. Man Mohan Singh and the President of China Hu Jintao to pay an official visit to Nepal at their earliest convenience. [..]

The second priority must be to correct the drift of our conduct of international affairs.”

Mr. Nepal also has to deal with disgruntled Maoists. His party was a member of Maoist lead coalition government but when the issue of army chief Rookmangud Katwal's sacking came up they decided not to backup the former guerrillas-which ultimately contributed to downfall of Maoist lead government.

Robert Lindsay, an American communist, sounds off on the power struggle.

“What’s particularly disgusting is the behavior of other Nepalese Communist parties, who have refused to work with the Maoists and have lined up behind feudalism, the monarchists and reaction. These parties were in parliament for over a decade during the 1990’s and were never able to accomplish a damned thing. Talk about useless.

I think the Madhesis are originally from India and live in the Far South near the Indian border. They are staunch Hindus and seem to harbor secessionist tendencies. I think the Terai (an ethnic group) may be much the same, but I am not sure.

Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) or CPN (UML) is the name of one of the sellout Communist parties.”

The Maoists have been staging protest during constituent assembly meetings, which some say is disrupting the constitution writing process. Mr. Nepal declared immediately after taking oath of office that drafting the new constitution is his first priority.

Here is Mr. Nepal addressing the nation, after assuming his duties-in Nepali. Basically, he stressed on the “new constitution drafting and taking the ongoing peace process to a logical conclusion.”

At Becononline Barun Roy has an article from Express Buzz on the Maoists allegedly stalling the constituent assembly meetings:

“The new Communist Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal, who replaced Maoist premier Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda Monday, has a fledgling three-member cabinet. Bitter infighting in his own party as well as his main allies has retarded the formation of a full cabinet.

Though Madhav Kumar says his top priority is writing a new constitution by next summer, the growing Maoist opposition will make it near-impossible.”

Working with the Maoists seems to be an uphill task for prime minister Nepal. Dealing with expectation of the people is also going to be tough, especially since the people are very skeptical about his “selection” and what he will be able to accomplish in the current environment of political instability.

Here is what the people feel about Mr. Nepal as the new prime minister of Nepal:

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