CPN-Maoist Centre Chairman is backed by Oli-Led Alliance
Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist Centre (CPN-MC) Pushpa Kamal Dahal who is popularly called as “Prachand'' - meaning ‘terrible’ or ‘fierce’ - has been appointed as the new Prime Minister of Nepal for a third time by Nepali President Bidhya Devi Bhandari. previously in 2016 and 2008, he was sworn in as PM. The news comes hours after Prachand distanced himself from a pre-poll five party alliance led by Nepal Congress President and outgoing PM Sher Bahadur Deuba as Deuba was reluctant to back Prachand to be PM as decided in the pre-poll alliance. Prachand was backed by K.P. Sharma Oli the Chairman of the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist-Leninist (CPN-UML) and five other smaller parties for a post-poll alliance in a bid to make him PM. Given that Prachand and Oli have had some prior run-ins with India over territorial issues, the surprise element may not be good for relations between India and Nepal.
Prachand Early Life and Career
Dahal was born on December 11,1954 in Dhikurpokhari, Kaski district, close to Pokhara in a Brahmin family. His early name was Ghanashyam until matriculation before he turned to Pushpa Kamal Dahal. He worked in a USAID-funded rural development project in Jajarkot after receiving an ISc-Ag certificate from the Institute of Agriculture and Animal Science (IAAS) in Rampur, Chitwan. In his adolescence, his extreme poverty drew him to left-wing political organisations.
In 1981, he became a member of the Communist Party of Nepal's Fourth Convention. In 1989, he was elected general secretary of the Nepali Communist Party (Mashal). Later, this group changed its name to the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). Prachanda continued to operate in secret even after democracy was restored in 1990. While Baburam Bhattarai represented the United People's Front in parliament, he oversaw the party's covert branch at the time. Prachanda spent nearly 13 years hiding out. When the CPN-Maoist accepted peaceful politics and put an end to a decade-long violent insurrection, he entered mainstream politics. He oversaw the ten-year armed conflict that began in 1996 and ended in November 2006 with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.
A mutual understanding between Prachand and Deuba was earlier there to lead the government on a rotational basis. During talks, Deuba staked claims for both the key posts of President and Prime Minister and offered the post of Speaker to the Maoists which Prachand outrightly rejected, resulting in failure of the talks. After the alliance broke, Prachand called on Oli’s residence to seek his support to stake the claim of the next PM of Nepal. Prachand and Oli stepped forward with mutual understanding to lead the government on rotation basis and made Prachand PM at the first chance as per his demand. In the 275-member house of representatives, a former Maoist guerrilla Prachand has a support of 165-members which also contains the Nagarik Unmukti Party with 3 votes, Janamat with 6, the Janata Samajwadi Party (JSP) with 12, the pro-monarchy Rashtriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) with 14, Rashtriya Swatantra Party (RSP) with 20, CPN-MC with 32 and CPN-UML with 78.
The results put an end to weeks of talks that started after the general election in November ended without a clear victor, despite the Nepali Congress emerging as the only party. However, the election proved challenging since a number of Deuba Cabinet members lost their seats and a number of minor parties, like the RSP and Nagarik Unmukti Party, emerged as fresh political forces. It was acknowledged that the minor parties would be essential to either of the two major blocs led by Mr. Deuba or Mr. Oli in order for them to succeed in forming the next administration. The Nepali Congress has recently experienced a crisis that has seen the emergence of a new power centre with party head Gagan Thapa asserting his influence. When it appeared as though Mr. Oli's alliance was disintegrating, Mr. Dahal shocked the political scene by forging a new coalition and running for Prime Minister.
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