After China, Prachanda to visit US?

August 27th, 2008 - 7:13 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, Aug 27 (IANS) After his controversial visit to China within less than a week of assuming office as republic Nepal’s first prime minister, will Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda now snub India further and make the US his next port of call abroad?Even as a controversy rages in Nepal and India about the implications of the revolutionary choosing to break with tradition and visiting northern neighbour China first instead of southern ally India, there is new speculation that Prachanda’s next destination abroad could be New York and not New Delhi.

The 63rd session of the UN General Assembly begins in the Big Apple Sept 16 and it is felt that Prachanda, who was keen to attend the summit of regional bloc SAARC in Colombo last month, could head the Nepali delegation.

Should that be the case, then he would have precious little time to accept Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh’s invitation to visit New Delhi prior to the New York trip since a series of crises await him home after his return from Beijing Wednesday.

Prachanda’s immediate task would be to pacify his aggrieved ally, the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (UML). The UML, despite backing him during the tough prime ministerial race earlier this month, refused to join the Maoist-led government and boycotted the oath-taking ceremony after the former guerrillas tried to grab the post of deputy prime minister as well.

Now with the UML threatening to sit in opposition, the Maoists face the grave danger of the communists once again joining forces with the chief opposition party, former prime minister Girija Prasad Koirala’s Nepali Congress (NC), to defeat a Maoist-led government just as they had defeated the Maoist candidate in the presidential election in July.

Besides appeasing the communists, Prachanda has to also address the ravages wreaked by the flood in south Nepal, which left over 75,000 people in Nepal homeless and nearly three million more in the Indian state of Bihar across the border.

Nepal and India need to urgently prop up the tottering dam on the Saptakoshi river, woo the river back to its old course and rehabilitate the flood-hit.

Nepal also has to improve its relations with India, already strained by the natural calamity and Prachanda’s China visit.

Nepal’s political parties are blaming the Bihar government for the calamity, saying it failed to maintain the dam and repair the damaged supporting spurs in time. The UML issued a statement, saying the Indian government should be asked to pay compensation for the extensive damage in Nepal.

Upon his return to Kathmandu Wednesday, Prachanda began making soothing sounds to gloss over the rift created by his Beijing trip.

The Beijing visit was meant to attend the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games and had no political overtones, said Prachanda, who however had met Chinese President Hu Jintao and premier Wen Jiabao during his four-day trip.

Nepal’s state media also said he had invited both to visit Nepal, an invitation that is yet to be issued to the Indian PM or president.

“My first formal and political visit to India would be a political one,” Prachanda said upon his arrival at the Tribhuvan International Airport. “We forged the 12-point agreement (with other political parties to bring down King Gyanendra’s regime in 2006) in India,” he said.

“Because of that and other geographic and cultural relations, my visit to India would have political connotation.”

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