Nepal’s Maoist chief in India?

September 10th, 2011 - 8:09 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, Sep 10 (IANS) The chief of Nepal’s ruling Maoist party and former Nepali prime minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda is in India, according to Nepal’s media fraternity.

The former revolutionary, who hid in India for several years during the decade-old “People’s War” fought by his party to overthrow monarchy, is reportedly camping in West Bengal’s Siliguri town.

Prachanda, who had attended a Maoist programme in western Gorkha district Friday along with the new prime minister from his party, Baburam Bhattarai, flew to eastern Nepal’s Biratnagar district after the programme ended, said the editors of two weeklies.

Kishore Shrestha, editor of the Jana Aastha weekly known for its key-hole reporting on the lives of the rich, famous and powerful, said Prachanda was accompanied by his wife Sita, son Prakash and a Maoist confidant, Haribol Gajurel.

From Biratnagar, the Maoist supremo is said to have made his way to India across Jhapa and Ilam by road.

The visit, so quiet as to be virtually clandestine, could be due to several reasons, the editors said.

Shrestha said the family visit could be to sort out the marriage of Prachanda’s youngest daughter Ganga. The marriage has reportedly hit a rocky patch.

Ganga, who was said to be part of her father’s kitchen cabinet when he was prime minister, is married to Narayan Vikram Pradhan, son of Indian communist leader and former Indian MP Badri Narayan Pradhan.

The Pradhans live in Siliguri.

However, Bishnu Rijal, editor of the Budhbar weekly and a former prime ministerial media advisor, said that in the past, Prachanda had met Indian officials in Siliguri, especially from Indian intelligence agency RAW.

Nepal is passing through a critical stage with the new prime minister seeking support from all quarters to give the becalmed peace process a push.

Though Bhattarai unveiled a relief package Friday with emphasis on improving the deteriorating security situation, the work of drafting a new constitution and disbanding the Maoists’ guerrilla army has not progressed.

It is acknowledged that the giant tasks will not be possible unless Prachanda concurs and there are doubts if he will do so, given his stormy relationship with Bhattarai and his own ambition to return to power.

There is growing speculation that Prachanda could be seeking to meet Indian officials and leaders to discuss the impasse in the peace process.

The new Bhattarai government has to ready the first draft of the new constitution by Nov 30 or face collapse, like its two predecessors since 2009.

(Sudeshna Sarkar can be contacted at sudeshna.s@ians.in)

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