Nepal: Maoists, govt begin number game after strike fails
After their six-day general strike failed to oust the ruling coalition of Nepal, the opposition Maoists have begun a number game in a renewed effort to take power.
Kathmandu: After their six-day general strike failed to oust the ruling coalition of Nepal, the opposition Maoists have begun a number game in a renewed effort to take power while the embattled government is also doing the same to outwit the former guerrillas.
The Maoists, who emerged as the biggest party in Parliament after a historic election in 2008, hold almost 38 percent of the seats in the house.
Now the former guerrillas, who fought a 10-year war to abolish monarchy in the world`s only Hindu kingdom, are wooing the fringe parties in a bid to evict the 21-party government of Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal.
On Tuesday, nine dissident parties that are not in the government pledged to support the Maoist bid to form a new government.
Only one of the new allies, the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum, is a party of some stature. After the elections, it became the fourth-largest party and a kingmaker winning 54 of the 601 seats.
However, the party from the Terai plains has now lost its potency after a vertical split, with the other faction joining the government.
The eight other fringe parties have less than 15 MPs between them and besides moral support would be of no real use to the Maoists if they seek to bring a no-trust vote against the government.
The Prime Minister remains in an unassailable position since he enjoys the support of the Nepali Congress, the second largest party which together with his own party, will outpace the Maoists in any house vote.
However, as a constitutional crisis looms larger, even the Prime Minister has begun to court other parties since he now needs two-third majority instead of a simple one.
If Nepal fails to promulgate a new constitution by May 28, the house will be dissolved automatically and with it the government, unless the latter declares a state of emergency.
The only way out is to amend the constitution and extend the constitutional deadline.
The Prime Minister`s party is asking him to extend the time by another year. Following the advice, Nepal Tuesday began wooing the smaller parties not aligned with the Maoists.
However, like the former guerrillas, he too faces an uphill task as the Maoists have said they would not allow the deadline to be stretched unless the Prime Minister resigns first.
Also, the Prime Minister`s ally, the Nepali Congress, is recommending fresh elections to form a new Parliament if the May 28 deadline fails.
There is also growing pressure on Nepal by the international community to quit.
May 24 is likely to be a decisive date now with the government trying to get the constitution amended by then and the Maoists warning they would start another strike if the Prime Minister failed to quit.