Nepal's caretaker Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai flummoxed everyone this Monday by refusing to resign till fresh elections. The statement temporarily evaporated any chances of consensus among parties to form a national unity government.
The announcement, made immediately after
returning from the Rio+20 summit, took even party colleague and Maoist chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda' by surprise.
This, however, hasn't dampened opposition parties' preparations for another shot at power. Efforts are underway within Nepali Congress and Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist), the two major opposition parties, to find Bhattarai's successor.
The top contender for Baluwatar, where the official residence of Nepal's PM is located, is Nepali Congress president Sushil Koirala.
The second largest party in the dissolved Constituent Assembly, NC hasn't headed the government yet (unlike Maoists and CPN (UML), the largest and third largest parties, who have tasted power twice since 2008) and everyone seems to agree they deserve a chance.
The other candidate from the NC camp is former PM Sher Bahadur Deuba who recently buried differences with Koirala over internal power sharing. Party vice-president Ram Chandra Poudel is in third place.
Those in CPN (UML) are also busy. The party is considering senior leader KP Sharma Oli for the post if NC fails to decide quickly on its candidate.
All's not quiet in the Maoist camp with reports of differences between Prachanda and Bhattarai over formation of a consensus-based government and revival of CA to draft the constitution.
Despite Bhattarai's reluctance to quit and opposition to reviving the dissolved CA, Prachanda who is wary of the PM's long stay in Baluwatar could play a role in forming a new government.
If that happens, it would be the fifth one in Nepal since the 2008 Constituent Assembly elections. And as power tussle continues, drafting of the constitution gets sidelined further.