New PM Khanal faces Himalayan challenge in Nepal
Khanal faces the challenge of carrying along the Nepali Congress, the second largest party in the House set to be the main opposition party.
Khanal faces the challenge of carrying along the
Nepali Congress, the second largest party in the House set to
be the main opposition party.
61-year-old former science teacher is a life-long
communist who played a key role in the struggle to restore
democracy in the country, spending several years underground.
Khanal`s willingness to engage with the Maoists, who
emerged as the single largest party in the 2008 polls, put him
at odds with many senior members of his party, but ultimately
paid off when he won the support of the ultra-leftists in the
prime ministerial vote.
He has underlined the need to involve the former
rebels, who fought a decade-long war against the state before
signing a 2006 peace deal and entering mainstream politics.
"Meaningful Maoist participation in the new government
is essential to deliver peace," Khanal said earlier. "(We
should) be ready to accept the leadership of whoever succeeds
in bringing them on board."
He was a founding member of the leftist UML (Unified
Marxist Leninist) party, which has its origins in the
communist movement that has strong roots in rural Nepal.
Khanal is an experienced politician, having
served as a minister in two previous governments and became
chairman of the CPN-UML in 2009 after the defeat of top
Communist leaders in the 2008 elections.
According to experts, Khanal has a reputation for
"being clean" and principled in his approach to politics.
A senior analysts described Khanal as an "independent
Amid the standoff in the formation of a new
government, Khanal had to bear the brunt of the mounting
frustration in the country. He was slapped by one of his
former cadres at a party programme in rural Nepal last month.
Khanal was minister for Agriculture, land reform and
environment during the Interim government in 1990 and Minister
for Information and Communication during coalition government
He became founding member of National Coordination
Committee for All Communist Revolutionaries of Nepal. Khanal
is close to the Maoists and regarded as hardliner leader of
the party unlike outgoing Prime Minister Madhav Nepal who is
regarded as moderate communist leader.
During the earlier election process, he quit the race
in favour of Prachanda, but the idea was opposed by a section
of the party which decided to remain neutral during the series
of run-off polls.