Nepali Congress leadership meets to mull Communist rising

Kathmandu, Nov 1 (IANS) Rattled by the country’s two major communist parties cornering four top posts in the former Hindu Kingdom post-promulgation of a federal republican constitution, Nepal’s largest political entity Nepali Congress has summoned its leadership in an urgent meeting to assess the prevailing situation.

“We will discuss the latest political situation in the country along with the post-constitution power-sharing deal,” said Congress secretary general Krishna Prasad Sitaula pointing to the sharing of spoils among the two major Left entities — the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxists-Leninists) and the Unified CPN (Maoist).

The meeting of the NC Central Working Committee, which began earlier on Sunday, will continue for a couple of days more.

The meeting of the NC leadrship comes in the wake of growing displeasure among the party rank and file over the failure of the strategy to cope with the communist alliance.

To begin with, the two communist parties joined forces to form a new government under the premiership of CPN (UML) chairman K.P. Sharma Oli.

Subsequently, other major constitutional posts like that of the president, vice president and parliament speaker were also grabbed by the two Left allies keeping the long-time democratic crusader Nepali Congress in a corner.

While CPN (UML) vice chairman Bidhya Devi Bhandari was elected president, the post of vice president was taken by UCPN-Maoist standing committee member Nanda Bahadur Pun.

Bhandari — widow of charismatic CPN (UML) general secretary Madan Bhandari, who died in a yet unexplained road accident in 1993 — is the first female president of Nepal.

Earlier, Maoist lawmaker Onsari Gharti Magar was elected parliament speaker with the post of her deputy falling to ruling alliance partner — and proponent of revival of the monarchy in the former Hindu Himalayan Kingdom — Rastriya Prajatantra Party-Nepal (RPP-N).

RPP-N lawmaker Ganga Prasad Yadav was elected deputy speaker.

Though the ushering in of the much-awaited constitution was made possible after an elusive accord between the Nepali Congress, CPN-UML and the Maoists, the two communist entities bypassed the NC in sharing the spoils of power post-promulgation.

Political analysts here are keenly watching the developments post-alliance between the two communist parties as to how they cope with the latest developments in Nepal, its relations with India and China and how Nepal will make a fair balance with these two powerful neighbours.

Nepal is facing a crippling internal blockade in the wake of anti-constitution protests in the southern Nepali terai plains by the Madhesis and the indigenous groups.

Now more than a month-and-half-old, the economic blockade has resulted in drastic shortage of essentials like edibles and fuel in the land-locked mountainous nation and cast a shadow over ties with southern neighbour India, which is the traditional trade, economic and development partner.

India has not been able to maintain supplies at normal levels due to violent protests at the border posts and customs points and bilateral relations have dipped to alarming low levels.

Nepalis celebrated an unusually austere Dashain (Dussehra) this year and await a dark Tihar (Diwali) festival unless a yet elusive normalcy appears.

Prime Minister Oli sent his deputy — and Foreign Minister — Kamal Thapa to India last month in an effort to repair ties but little headway was made.

Nepal late last month also signed a deal with China to import fuel thus ending a decades-old monopoly that India had so far enjoyed — and analysts see this as Nepal inching closer to its northern neighbour communist China under a predominantly Left administration.

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