Nepal PM to parley with Indian PM, Chinese presidentSeptember 18th, 2011 - 4:04 pm ICT by IANS
Kathmandu, Sep 18 (IANS) Nepal’s new Maoist Prime Minister, Baburam Bhattarai, will hold bilateral talks with his Indian counterpart, Manmohan Singh, and Chinese President Hu Jintao in New York this week.
Bhattarai, who is leaving for New York to attend the 66th UN General Assembly, will apprise Manmohan Singh, Hu and eight other heads of state about the progress in the peace process in Nepal and discuss bilateral cooperation.
“Since Manmohan Singh was the first to congratulate him on becoming prime minister and since the two countries are close, the talks will naturally be deep,” Bhattarai’s media advisor Ram Rijan Yadav told IANS.
The Maoist leader will also hold talks with UN chief Ban Ki-moon, whose organisation had played a key role in verifying the Maoists’ guerrilla army, and attend a reception hosted by US President Barack Obama.
Though the Maoists, who waged a 10-year insurgency from 1996, are still on the US watchlist of terror organisations worldwide, the election of Bhattarai, regarded as the pragmatic and progressive face of his former guerrilla party, has inspired fresh confidence in the international community.
The former finance minister, who is advocating austerity measures for his ministers as well as bureaucrats, is leading a modest 13-member delegation to the UN that includes Foreign Minister Narayan Kaji Shrestha, foreign secretary Madan Kumar Bhattarai, government officials, journalists and his wife Hisila Yami, who is also a politburo member of the Maoist party.
In an unprecedented gesture in Nepal’s political history, the new Maoist prime minister is flying economy class, a sharp contrast to an earlier fruitless visit to the UN by the then king Gyanendra, who kept an entire aircraft at his disposal, causing the ailing national flag carrier a whopping loss.
The austerity measure comes after Bhattarai chose the only “made in Nepal” vehicle, the Mustang Max, as his official car, dispensing with the earlier trend of premiers using expensive cars.
The style of functioning of the new prime minister has also drawn media attention due to its no-frills style.
Bhttarai is reported to reach his office an hour beforehand, cabinet meetings now start in time and are brief and there is regular evaluation of public complaints.
However, despite the efforts, the prime minister is playing with a team that threatens to pull him down.
His cabinet includes at least two ministers reported to have been involved in questionable deals.
Last week, Bhattarai faced criticism after moving the home secretary to a different office despite his promise not to transfer bureaucrats indiscriminately like the earlier governments had.
Home secretary Lilamani Poudel, who had earned a reputation for efficiency, is said to have been transferred because he opposed bids by a Deputy Prime Minister, Bijay Kumar Gachhedar, to protect known criminals.
(Sudeshna Sarkar can be contacted at email@example.com)
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