Backed by Oli, Prachanda becomes Nepal’s new PM

KATHMANDU: CPN-Maoist Centre chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda” was on Sunday appointed Nepal’s new PM, after the former guerrilla leader dramatically broke away from the five-party ruling alliance led by the Nepali Congress, ending the political uncertainty after last month’s general elections failed to produce a clear winner. The surprise development may not bode well for India-Nepal ties as Prachanda and his main backer CPN-UML chairman K P Sharma Oli have some run-ins with New Delhi previously over territorial issues. Prachanda, who replaces Sher Bahadur Deuba of the Nepali Congress party, will step down in 2025, making way for the UML to take over the office, local media reported.
The former Maoist guerrilla who led a decade-long insurgency against Nepal’s monarchy has been appointed PM for a third time. He will head the new government for the first half of the five-year term with the support of the opposition Communist Unified Marxist-Leninist (UML) party and some other smaller groups, party officials said. “He has been appointed and commands the support of a big majority of parliament,” Tika Dhakal, an aide to President Bidhya Devi Bhandari said. The swearing in ceremony will take place at 4pm on Monday, according to the President’s Office. Earlier, a crucial meeting was held at former prime minister Oli’s residence where CPN-Maoist Centre and other smaller parties agreed to form a government under the leadership of ‘Prachanda’. There has been an understanding between Prachanda and Oli to lead the government on rotation basis and Oli agreed to make Prachanda PM at the first chance as per his demand.
Prachanda is seen as pro-China. He has in the past said a new understanding with India needed to be developed on the basis of “changed scenario” in Nepal and after addressing all outstanding issues, like revision of the 1950 Friendship Treaty and resolving Kalapani and Susta border disputes. The India-Nepal Treaty of Peace and Friendship of 1950 forms the bedrock of the special relations between the two countries. In recent years, Prachanda, however, said India and Nepal need to address diplomatically some of the issues “left by history” to realise the full potential of the bilateral cooperation. His main backer Oli is also known for his pro-China stance. As the prime minister, Oli last year claimed that efforts were being made to oust him after his government redrew Nepal’s political map by incorporating three strategically key Indian territories, a move that strained ties between the two countries. India had termed as “untenable” the “artificial enlargement” of the territorial claims by Nepal after its parliament unanimously in 2020 approved the new political map of the country featuring Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura areas which India maintains belong to it.
The country shares a border of over 1850 km with five Indian states – Sikkim, West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Land-locked Nepal relies heavily on India for the transportation of goods and services. Nepal’s access to the sea is through India, and it imports a predominant proportion of its requirements from and through India. pti

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