POWER POLITICS Set For A New Ball Game

Three weeks after the chairmen of the two biggest communist parties inked a controversial deal to put a brake on the cycle of elections for the prime minister the UML has officially “endorsed” it, but with many ambiguities still remaining what is bec

Feb. 28, 2011, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol. : 04 No .-17 Feb.25-2011 (Falgun 13,2067)

A group of UML’ central committee and politburo members heads towards the east of Koteswor while another rushes to the north.

The former ended up at the private residence of K.P. Olli at Balkot. The latter at the prime minister’s official residence at Baluwatar.

The same evening ten central and politburo members confirmed that had separate meetings on the same topic -- the controversial seven-point pact with the Maoists. “Some are at Baluwatar while some of us are here at Olli’s place,” said central member Jaganath Khatiwada.

The meetings took place shortly before the crucial politburo and the central committee meetings which were due to decide the fate of the seven-point pact.

Predictably, the meetings came up with ambiguous decisions.

Both sides of the faction-ridden party could see it as their victory.

The prime minister Jhalnath Khanal camp was euphoric over the “endorsement” of what his main critic, K.P.Oli only the other day had degradedly said was a love letter between Khanal and Maoist chairman Prachanda.

The Oli camp pointed to the riders attached to the endorsement which, according to it, was a setback to Khanal.
This ambiguity puts the fate of the prime minister as well as the party he heads in balance.

This also puts the Maoist chairman Prachanda in a dilemma. He has the liberty of interpreting the UML ‘endorsement/ the way he likes and decide accordingly to join or to stay away from the government he helped put in place.

But he will no longer have the luxury of getting away with whatever he does. The party is too divided to fall in line with his whims and fancies.

Whether he will be able to ‘remote-control’ Khanal or whether the latter will be able to be free from the grip of the Maoists is what will decide the future course of politics.

As both possibilities seem very remote, a new ball game is sure to begin sooner than later.

With the Maoists on board or not, the Khanal government will struggle to prolong its life.

With the Nepali Congress determined to remain out of the communist-dominated coalition, the peace and the constitution-making process will hit the roadblock.

Although immediate withdrawal of the Maoist support to Khanal is unlikely even in the event of its no to the ‘revision’ in the seven-point pact, it could change its course ahead of the CA’s extended tenure and woo the Nepali Congress.

Said a Maoist politburo member Devendra Poudel, “the present Maoist support to the government may not last more than a month.”

If the Nepali Congress agreed to extend the tenure of the CA again, the Maoists would be prepared to back it to head the new government.

Either way, prime minister Khanal’s future is shaky.

Since the CA’s further extension is unlikely what is looking increasingly likely is a new polarization in all major parties.

Most parties barring the Maoists and the pro-Maoist faction of the UML have been alarmed by the “left polarization” in the guise of the seven-point deal.

“The deal has deepened the long running mistrust of the parties,” said Nepali Congress leader Krishna Prasad Sitaula.

The suspecting parties will see every reason to rally together and seek the intervention of the president Ram Baran Yadav “to protect democracy”.

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