Blaming India, Nepal PM quits (Lead)

May 22nd, 2009 - 6:45 pm ICT by IANS  

By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, May 22 (IANS) After obstructing parliament for three weeks, Nepal’s Maoist party finally allowed the house to convene Friday with caretaker Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda making an impassioned valedictory address, in which he blamed neighbour India, Nepal’s President Ram Baran Yadav, his allies and the army chief, Gen Rookmangud Katawal and warned of a catastrophe in the days to come.

The address paves the way for an election Saturday when the 601-member house will choose a new prime minister to succeed Prachanda.

Unless there is a major hitch, veteran communist leader Madhav Kumar Nepal, former chief of the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (UML), will step into Prachanda’s shoes Saturday with 23 of the 25 parliamentary parties agreeing to support him.

In his nearly hour-long speech that rambled and repeated much of what he had said when he announced his resignation May 4, Prachanda came down heavily on southern neighbour India, accusing it of trying to behave like Nepal’s big brother.

New Delhi, he said, still based its relations with Kathmandu on the humiliating Sugauli Treaty signed between Nepal and the British East India Company in 1816, which forced Nepal to concede about a third of its land. New Delhi had failed to upgrade its ties even after the sea change that overtook Nepal following the Maoist insurgency and the fall of monarchy.

Being the elected prime minister of a federal, democratic republic, Prachanda said he had tried to bring a change in Nepal’s ties with its neighbours and had visited China first to attend the concluding ceremony of the Olympic Games.

However, he indicated that India had failed to appreciate the change and had “remote-controlled” his allies into forsaking him.

Flaying the political parties, especially his former allies, as “double-crossers”, Prachanda said they had “turned 180 degrees” on their decision to fire the army chief and had made a mockery of civil supremacy.

Prachanda also attacked the president for reinstating the dismissed army chief, calling it unconstitutional.

He said there was a propaganda war against his nine-month-old government with fear-mongers raising the spectre of a Maoist revolt to capture power so that presidential rule could be imposed and the army deployed in the name of combating the Maoist attack.

Prachanda also cast doubts about the new government that would succeed his own, saying it was the byproduct of the “dirty game” of buying and selling legislators.

Though the Maoists are demanding a vote in parliament on the president’s controversial move, there was no immediate decision with the house chairman, Subhash Nembang, adjourning it till Saturday afternoon.

Though the Maoists are the largest party in the house, yet, falling short of absolute majority, they are likely to lose Saturday’s race for a new PM.

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