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Questions of integration

world Updated: Oct 19, 2008 01:41 IST
Anirban Roy
Anirban Roy
Hindustan Times
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Nepal’s Maoist Prime Minister Prachanda, who has vowed to transform the impoverished Himalayan Nation to a developed state, is set to face a series of new challenges, probably the toughest of his political career.

Elected as Nepal’s new Prime Minister on August 15, he is now fighting a battle within the party on the issue of stepping down from the post of chairman of the radical communist party.

The issue of Maoist chairmanship is sure to be one of the trickiest issues to handle. Prachanda had taken over as the chief of the party in 1990, and had successfully led the decade-long People’s War, and brought about a sea change in Nepal’s political format.

A large section of the hardliner leaders within the party are also desperate to transform Nepal into a ‘People’s Republic.’ Senior Maoist leader Mohan Vaidya alias Comrade Kiran is believed to be the main campaigner of the People’s Republic agenda.

The twin issues of People’s Republic and party chairmanship are likely to come up during the Maoist National Convention scheduled in November.

Moreover, Prachanda, who is always identified as a “progressive” radical communist leader, is likely to be under tremendous pressure on the issue of the integration of People’s Liberation Army (PLA) with Nepal Army.

Most political parties, including the Nepali Congress and some of the partners of the ruling coalition, are opposed to the integration.

The issue started to emerge as the main focus of political discussion after Prachanda announced at a tea-party of Communist Party of Nepal (UML) on Wednesday that the army integration would take place within a month.

Prachanda said a special cabinet committee would soon be constituted to prepare ground for the integration process. He also said some of the PLA combatants would also be recruited in border security and industrial security forces.

“Integration of PLA and Nepal Army is the toughest challenge for the Prime Minister,” Sirish Ballav Pradhan, a Kathmandu-based journalist said.

Speaking to a group of civil society activists on Thursday, Prachanda said the government was working seriously to finalise the modality of integration and discussions were also going on with the army top brass. “We don’t know how the government will implement the integration process,” a Nepal Army official, who refused to be quoted, said.