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Nepal gets new Prime Minister but deeper problems remain

The new Prime Minister of Nepal won’t be able to change the problems affecting the country, writes Rajesh Thapa

The constitutional assembly in Nepal has once again failed to reach agreement. Its tenure has been extended for a fourth time. Although the major parties declared their commitment to the process of drafting a new constitution several times, the main issues of contention have never been discussed seriously, let alone finalised. Assembly meetings have been poorly attended, postponed and stalled.
Lust for power and the controversial issue of the integration of the Maoist People’s Liberation Army have been the key obstacles to completing the political process. The main opposition parties, the bourgeois National Congress and the reformist Communist Party (United Marxist Leninist) have openly announced that they don’t want to move ahead with the process before settling the PLA dispute.
New Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai, along with his government, has put forward a self-imposed forty-five day time limit to complete the major tasks of combatant integration and rehabilitation. However, he has not been able to give a final touch to his cabinet because of the growing internal rift in his party, the United Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist).
In short, a deeper political and economic crisis now looks certain to open.

Rift in the Maoist party
The thee-way division in the Maoist party, which had been temporarily resolved by elevating vice chairman Bhattarai to the post of Prime Minister, now threatens to re-intensify many times over. Senior vice chairman Mohan Baidya has increasingly clashed with the factions of chairman Prachanda and the other vice chairman, Bhattarai. Baidya’s faction, which claims to have the support of more than 40 per cent of their MPs if they were to split the party, has strongly opposed the recent handover some of the party’s weapons to the state.
Despite initially agreeing on the modality and number of PLA integration into the army, Baidya and his allies have now taken to the streets to oppose the party’s decision and have refused to join the government formed by their own party. They argue that all they want is a mere apology from Prachanda and Bhattarai and their agreement to not to repeat such mistakes.
As the political crisis continues to loom, the economy has failed to grow. The government has not been able to guarantee the regular supply of electricity and fuel, vital for the functioning of any economy. Now it is struggling to control growing corruption, food adulteration and security breaches.
Neither the old parliamentary parties nor the new ones, like the UCPN-Maoist, have been able to satisfy the basic needs of the people who made the revolution that brought down King Gyanendra in 2006. On the one hand, they have failed to meet the people’s mandate on peace and a new constitution. On the other, they have failed to improve their living conditions. We need a party which can lead the masses towards the revolutionary smashing of the bourgeois state and establishing a society based on socialist ideals.

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