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Khanal on way out; tussle begins for next govt

world Updated: Aug 11, 2011 17:07 IST
Utpal Parashar

With Prime Minister Jhalanath Khanal giving a written reiteration in parliament on his desire to quit office by August 13, the stage is again set for a new government in Nepal.

The imminent demise of the six-month old government has led to hectic parleys among the major players on formation of national consensus government or a majority one.

Khanal's fate was sealed on May 28 when Maoists, Nepali Congress and Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist) inked a five-point deal to extend the Constituent Assembly's tenure by another three months.

The extension was given to complete the peace process, draft a new statute and form of a new government with participation of most parties.

But Khanal's move to pressurize coalition partner Maoists to speed up the peace process by giving a resignation deadline backfired and Nepal politics is back to square one again.

While the previous, as well as, present governments were headed by CPN (UML), this time the race is among Maoists and Nepali Congress to wrangle the PM's chair.

Maoists have already made it clear that party vice-chairman Baburam Bhattarai would head a national consensus government, but NC is yet to choose between Ram Chandra Paudel and Sher Bahadur Deuba.

Both senior leaders are engaged in a tug of war to become the PM candidate from the party. If no consensus emerges, the party's central committee is likely to take a decision through vote.

Nepali Congress also sent feelers that it would support a government led by Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda. But Maoists seem united on Bhattarai as the PM candidate.

Meetings are underway to forge a consensus on who would lead the next government. Khanal had a series of meetings on Wednesday with Maoists, Nepali Congress and Madhesi leaders.

With Khanal's unsuccessful tenure that started in February with a secret seven point deal with Prachanda likely to end on Saturday, media is also urging him to quit.

"Having nothing to count on as a success story, it is time for Khanal to move leaving the prime minister's seat," The Himalayan Times wrote in its Thursday's editorial.