NATIONAL POLITICS Will It NotFlatterTo Deceive?

No doubt, the Nepali politics will not be the same after the recent ‘breakthrough’ deal. It is set to take a new course. But it is tooearly to hope for the miracle that some are hoping will occur. A new dawn is still far away.<br>A SPECIAL CORRESPOND

Nov. 13, 2011, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol.: 05 No.-09 Nov. 11-2011 (Kartik 25,2068)<br>

Ten days after he met his Indian counterpart, in Delhi, a shaky prime minister Baburam Bhattarai was rewarded with “the most important”achievement of his two months in office. The ‘breakthrough’ in the peace process.

Ten days after the ‘landmark’ three-party agreement, nodded at the last minute by the fourth party – the Madhesi front – a confident Bhattarai is set to see his Indian counterpart, again, in the Maldivian capital of Male.

Suddenly euphoria has set in, in an otherwise gloomy air of political transition. There have been claims, not necessarily wrongly, that the faltering peace process has been brought back to the track.

A time-table has been agreed upon to resolve the vexing issue of Maoist combatants or the disarming of the former rebels. This is expected to clear way for the parties to justify a fresh move to extend the tenure of the Constituent Assembly.

The parties hope to come up with a draft statute in the extended tenure and ready themselves for parliamentary elections.

The swiftness with which the events did unfold over the past few days has been so dramatic that there have also been concerns whether it will fold up equally dramatically.

Prime minister Bhattarai is confident, so is his party boss, Prachanda. That confidence was the reason both chose to leave for abroad soon after the ‘breakthrough’ deal.

Bhattarai headed to the Maldives to take part in the pre-scheduled summit meeting of the South Asian regional cooperation organization (SAARC). Prachanda left for the United States to discuss the development of Lumbini with the UN officials in New York, under a schedule decided only a few days ago.

Back home, eyebrows have been raised over the absence of two key actors during the crucial implementation phase of the ‘breakthrough’ deal.

But the other key actors are not as worried. The Nepali Congress president Sushil Koirala and the UML chairman Jhalanath Khanal say, the peace process has come on track.

The reasons are obvious. Both are looking forward to a national unity government of which the two parties would be a part. Once the peace process gets completed in less than a month’s time –  ahead of the CA’s deadline.

Koirala has a dream beyond. Under a gentleman’s agreement, he has been assured of the top executive office to lead the country to parliamentary elections under the new constitution.

Whether prime minister Bhattarai will opt to vacate the office for Koirala by that time is a different matter altogether. Nepali politics has never been free of mistrust and sabotage.

Bhattarai is already an emboldened man. The man he faced the immediate and the most serious threat from has been forced to restrain his ambition – for now.

After failing to win back the trust of the influential – at times decisive – powers, Prachanda has discounted speculations that he aspired to replace Bhattarai to head the national government. But it is difficult to expect Prachanda cool his heels even as Bhattarai goes on to consolidate his position in the party.

He may have publicly declared that the next goal for him is executive president of prime minister in the newly elected parliament, but it will be naïve to expect him sit relaxed till then even as Bhattarai rides on his shoulders and walks away with all accolades.

No doubt, the Nepali politics will not be the same after the recent ‘breakthrough’ deal. It is set to take a new course. But it is too early to hope for the miracle that some are hoping will occur.

A new dawn of peace, stability and prosperity is still far away. Mutual mistrust still runs deep in Nepali politics. The lust for power even during the critical transition has not gone away. The domestic actors continue to be reduced to side-watchers as the outsiders dictate the course of events.

There had been many instances when things flattered to deceive. There is no guarantee yet if the history does not repeat itself.

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