No partner left

Delhi's role in Nepal is seen as a failure. Thus the criticism of President Yadav's India trip

The Maoist headquarters in Kathmandu are under siege by its guerrillas, and no central office bearer, including party chairman Prachanda, has been able to get inside or hold meetings for the past two weeks. The former guerrillas often called "disqualified combatants" are angry that they were unfairly treated by the party high command and were pushed towards an uncertain future despite playing a major role during the years of insurgency. But the government headed by Maoist vice-chairman Baburam Bhattarai has chosen not to deploy force. A group of labourers, affiliated to the Maoist-led trade union and allegedly loyal to the anti-Prachanda faction, ransacked the office of NCELL, a private telecom company, asking the management to reveal the actual names of the share holders. There are allegations that Prachanda has a benami investment in the company.

On Friday, Bhattarai walked out of the UCPN-M's extended central committee meeting as members objected to the "extra-constitutional" status and "corruption" he is allegedly indulging in. Bhattarai sensed that the group, which wants him to resign to pave the way for a "national unity" government, was in a majority. Walking out was a way to stall the move. On Sunday, on the occasion of the birth anniversary of former PM late K.B. Bhattarai, the PM said he would not quit until elections. Angry with his obstinacy, the Nepali Congress (NC), Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML) backed by Maoist chief Prachanda, have asked the president to take stern action against Bhattarai.

The initiative taken by President Ram Baran Yadav to have a consensus PM replace Bhattarai has not worked so far. Bhattarai's reluctance to quit and the failure of the other parties has punctured his efforts. NC chief Sushil Koirala has been able to secure the UML's support, but consensus around him is nowhere in sight. Bhattarai continues to challenge Yadav's actions, and has been taking major decisions on the terms of reference of hydel projects, foreign investment and promotions of security officials, besides loaning private companies huge sums of money from national deposit schemes. Bhattarai feels the absence of a parliament grants him immunity from wider scrutiny and accountability.

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