Prachanda poised for double Delhi visit

October 19th, 2008 - 5:37 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, Oct 19 (IANS) Nepal’s first Maoist Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda”, who made his first official visit to India in September, is scheduled to pay another visit to the country in November.Prachanda had created a controversy by visiting China first instead of India soon after assuming office two months ago.

He is scheduled to visit the Indian capital to attend a regional summit and to take part in a private leadership conference.

The Maoist chief is to take part in the second summit of the seven-member regional grouping Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Scientific, Technical, and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) that begins in Delhi Nov 11.

On Saturday, during a visit to far west Nepal to inaugurate a festival, Prachanda was reported as saying that his September trip to India was a “goodwill” visit.

During the BIMSTEC visit, he would raise the issue of the unequal treaties between India and Nepal.

The Maoists say they want all bilateral pacts with India to be reviewed and updated with the unequal ones to be scrapped.

In the third week of November, Prachanda has agreed to take part in a leadership summit as well.

In October 2007, Prachanda, whose party had then become a household name in India with its successful battle against Nepal’s two-centuries-old monarchy, participated in the Leadership Summit hosted by the Hindustan Times daily in New Delhi.

A year later, having become republic Nepal’s first prime minister after a successful election, Prachanda has agreed to take part in the second summit in New Delhi, provided there is no crisis at home.

However, a tough time awaits him before the two summits kick off.

His formerly underground party will hold its national convention from Nov 10, the first in nearly a decade, when his leadership could come under challenge from the hardliners in the party.

The Prachanda faction wants to be pragmatic and move with the times. The prime minister is advocating an economic revolution with private-public partnership, dropping the name of Mao from his party and supporting the cause of a democratic republic.

The hawks in the party, however, think Mao still has his place in the party and are gunning for a “people’s republic” along the lines of China, where enterprise, the press and other sectors are controlled by the state.

Besides cracks in his own party, Prachanda is also under fire from the other major political powers.

On Sunday, when the constituent assembly convened after a long festival break, the Maoists were flayed by the main opposition party, former premier Girija Prasad Koirala’s Nepali Congress (NC).

NC lawmakers warned they would start an anti-Maoist movement from the makeshift parliament if the Maoists did not keep their peace pledge of returning the public property they had confiscated during the 10-year insurgency.

The Maoist government also came under attack for announcing an NRS 2000 increment per month in the salaries of its People’s Liberation Army soldiers.

A second party, the Terai Madhes Loktantrik Party that is a growing power in the Terai plains, boycotted Sunday’s session to protest against the killing of two of its cadre in Kapilavastu district in south Nepal last week, saying the government had failed to provide security in the plains.

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