Sonia congratulates Prachanda on Maoist poll victory

April 22nd, 2008 - 6:44 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Sonia Gandhi
By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, April 22 (IANS) Acknowledging the stunning victory Nepal’s Maoists have scored in this month’s crucial election, Sonia Gandhi, president of India’s Congress party, Tuesday sent a letter to party chief Prachanda, congratulating him. “The letter reached our party headquarters today,” Prabhakar, Maoist MP and one of the winners of the April 10 constituent assembly election, told IANS.

The letter from Gandhi, chairperson of India’s ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA), came after India hailed the final conduct of the twice-postponed polls and said it would accept the mandate of Nepal’s people.

On the eve of the election, the Congress had sent a delegation headed by former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijay Singh which had expressed support for the Nepali Congress party of Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala.

The Congress and the Nepali Congress have historically shared roots. The Nepali Congress was, however, vanquished in the election, coming a distant second.

India is looking to make a fresh start in Nepal following the Maoist victory, which Indian analysts failed to foresee.

While India’s External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee is likely to visit Nepal, an invitation is said to have been extended to Prachanda to visit India.

Prachanda will head the new coalition government of Nepal and is seeking to woo the vanquished rival parties too.

The central leaders of the once underground party held discussions Tuesday to plan the new government - the critical first meeting of the constituent assembly and future strategy of the party that is now toning down its revolutionary policies.

A second meeting five days later is expected to give a more concrete shape to its future plans.

Indian ambassador to Nepal Shiv Shankar Mukherjee will be completing his tenure and returning to New Delhi Wednesday following the arrival in Kathmandu of his successor, Rakesh Sood.

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