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Prachanda agrees to clip own wings

Under pressure from most of his deputies, Nepal Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda has finally agreed to loosen his grip over the party and share power. Utpal Parashar reports.

world Updated: Jul 26, 2011 01:05 IST
Utpal Parashar

Under pressure from most of his deputies, Nepal Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda has finally agreed to loosen his grip over the party and share power.

On Monday, the Maoist central committee approved Prachanda’s political document that advocates division of responsibilities and shifting of party focus on peace and constitution drafting.

As part of the deal, Prachanda will continue to retain the parliamentary party leadership while vice-chairman Baburam Bhattarai would get the prime minister’s post when the party gets a chance to head the government.

Another deputy Mohan Baidya will head the party’s disciplinary department besides handling his existing responsibility of organization. General Secretry Ram Bahadur Thapa will head the military wing.

On Sunday the party had recalled most ministers in the present government to replace them with a team headed by Vice Chairman Narayan Kaji Shrestha who will be the new Deputy PM and Home Minister.

The move to recall ministers is already witnessing opposition from Prime Minister Jhalanath Khanal and opposition Nepali Congress. Maoists have threatened to pull out of the coalition if the new ministers are now sworn in.

Monday’s development ends weeks of tussle for control in Nepal’s largest party which is still trying to come to terms with parliamentary democracy after discarding weapons five years ago.

Prachanda was forced to give up his singular control over the party after Baidya, Bhattarai, Shrestha and Thapa combined forces demanding more responsibilities.

Despite differences in their outlooks, Bhattarai (who wants a progressive constitution) and Baidya (who wants another peoples’ war to seize power) stuck together and started a signature campaign against Prachanda.

Before the deal Prachanda headed the military wing, party structure and the parliamentary wing. This was the most serious threat he had faced since the party’s formation 16 years ago.

With resolution of the power-sharing crisis, it is expected that the party would now be able to focus better on completing the peace process and drafting of the new constitution.

The two crucial issues have to be completed before August 31, the date when the extended deadline of the Constituent Assembly’s tenure expires.