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Importance of being Dr Bhattarai

The race to become Nepal’s PM has begun again. Contenders have begun stretching muscles to overcome the seemingly impossible task of forging the elusive consensus or get majority vote from lawmakers.

world Updated: Jan 16, 2011 23:44 IST
Utpal Parashar

The race to become Nepal’s PM has begun again. Contenders have begun stretching muscles to overcome the seemingly impossible task of forging the elusive consensus or get majority vote from lawmakers.

It’s likely that those eyeing the seat will be old faces from the previous race that ran for sixteen rounds over six months and ended last week with Nepali Congress leader Ram Chandra Poudel pulling out.

But there’s another candidate waiting in the sidelines who if he manages to enter the fray could prove a stumbling block for others. It’s Maoist vice-chairman Baburam Bhattarai.

The 56-year-old has proved to be the overwhelming favourite for the PM’s seat among the public. several opinion polls say so, but he is yet to find favour from his party.

A difficult task as chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ is keen on a second stint in Baluwatar and many comrades feel that Bhattarai is too ‘soft’ or India-inclined for the post.

The Delhi School of Planning and Architecture and Jawaharlal Nehru University alumnus voiced his predicament during a trip to Mumbai last week.

Despite his stated ‘lack of interest’, in his first trip to New Delhi, Bhattarai hobnobbed with senior UPA ministers and tried to earn brownie points for his party and himself.

Don’t be taken in by his seeming unwillingness, Bhattarai is as ready as anyone to shoulder the responsibility should Prachanda step aside.

That seems an unlikely possibility as Bhattarai’s was the lone voice of dissent against the party’s official stance that domestic reactionaries and sections of the ruling class in India are the principal ‘enemy’ of Nepal.