Will Prachanda keep his date with Indian media?

February 9th, 2009 - 5:10 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, Feb 9 (IANS) After failing to keep his date with the Indian media last year, will Nepal’s Maoist Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda keep it next month?

The former Maoist revolutionary is expected to visit India March 6 to take part in the two-day conclave to be hosted in New Delhi’s Taj Hotel by Indian weekly India Today.

Prachanda is scheduled to address the 8th conclave on the theme “Challenges of Change”.

The prime minister’s media advisor Om Sharma said Prachanda was inclined to keep his date but would confirm it later.

In November, the Maoist supremo had agreed to take part in the annual leadership summit organised by the Hindustan Times daily. However, he had to call it off after a series of crises in the Himalayan republic, including a challenge to his leadership by some of his own party peers.

Now three months later, the premier is in even more dire straits.

Nepal is passing through its worse power crisis with an average 18-hour power outage daily despite the state-run Nepal Electricity Authority’s glib assurance that the daily blackout has been brought down to 14 hours.

The Maoist government is also headed for a parliamentary crisis with the main opposition party, former prime minister Girija Prasad Koirala’s Nepali Congress (NC), Monday beginning a move to challenge three recent ordinances issued by the government despite widespread opposition.

This month, the Maoist government waited till the constituent assembly was prorogued and then pushed the three bills on seat reservations, punishing enforced disappearances and compiling a new voters’ list.

The three decrees can run for now but would have to be approved by the assembly within six months.

The NC has begun a signature campaign to get the assent of one-fourth of the 621 lawmakers in the Constituent Assembly to challenge the controversial decrees.

The new constitution says the PM has to convene the prorogued assembly in 15 days if 25 percent of the lawmakers endorse the demand.

Besides its opponent NC, the Maoist government has also to contend with the army that in the past had been the underground party’s arch enemy.

Maoist Defence Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa Badal and Nepal Army chief Gen Rookmangud Katawal are on collision course after the minister asked the army to stop recruitment but the latter went ahead with it.

Finally, Prachanda’s India visit is likely to come under fire from his own party men.

The hawks in the former guerrilla party have stepped up an anti-India campaign, accusing the southern neighbour of trying to foment violence in the Terai plains along the border, encroaching on Nepal’s territory and trying to interfere in Nepal’s internal matters.

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