Delhi’s message is clear

President Ram Baran Yadav's return from an official trip to New Delhi on December 29 coincided with the expiry of the sixth deadline that he had set for the election of a new prime minister by consensus. He apparently was promised all the help Nepal wanted from India, with a rider that it was for the Nepalese to address the prevailing political uncertainty. That perhaps elections to the legislature would be the best means to bring the country back on the constitutional track was the suggestion from all sides that Yadav interacted with.

But back home, Yadav appeared all alone, with the key actors divided. He found no alternative to extending the deadline for the formation of a national unity government till January 4. Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai is not only refusing to resign but also questioning the president's right to initiate his succession. The Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist has always been good at turning adversity into opportunity. "If Parties fail to come together, we will go for the revival of the Constituent Assembly," said Maoist chief Prachanda. Revival of the House would mean Maoists enjoying the status of the biggest party.

The Maoists seem to have read the Delhi visit from their own perspective. External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid's statement that India has no particular "likes or dislikes" for any force in Nepal is being taken as a message that Delhi has not backed the Nepal president fully yet, and the chances of his going against the government without external backing, mainly India's, are far less at this moment. Therefore, the Maoists must continue to control the government either through Bhattarai or under Prachanda, which will be possible if the House is revived. Maoists are also using this statement to warn other political parties that Delhi will not be averse to recognising and working with "revivalists" or monarchists in the event of their resurgence and, therefore, they "all must support the Maoist-dictated agenda, as well as the government led by them".

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