Interview with Nepal Prime Minister Jhalanath Khanal.
After seven months of living with a caretaker government, Nepal’s Parliament on February 3 elected Jhalanath Khanal, chairman of the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist), as the Prime Minister, with the support of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). He spoke to Prashant Jha at the prime ministerial residence in Kathmandu on February 10. Excerpts, as first published in The Hindu:
What’ll be your priorities?
My first priority is to complete the ongoing peace process. Second, my aim is to help complete the Constitution-writing process. Third, I’ll strengthen the institutions of governance, improve law and order, and guarantee security to the common citizens. Fourth, my focus will be on taking the country towards an economic revolution through development, reconstruction and socio-economic transformation.
Your predecessors had similar priorities, and had pledged to complete the peace and constitutional process. What’s different about your government? Continue reading ‘We are aware of India’s interests’: Jhalanath Khanal
India can continue to let its suspicion of the Maoists be the over-riding objective of its Nepal policy or seek to play a pro-active role in engineering the kind of consensus it has done since 2005.
First published in The Hindu yesterday.
Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao arrives in Kathmandu on her maiden visit today, at a time when Nepal is grappling with its most serious and prolonged political crisis since the peace process began. India has to make certain difficult policy choices, reconcile the contradictions between its stated aims and actions, determine whether it remains committed to the process it helped facilitate, and use its leverage accordingly.
The fragile Madhav Nepal-led ruling coalition faces a severe crisis of legitimacy and a belligerent Maoist opposition. The Maoists have boycotted the legislature-parliament, paralysing government business to the extent that the budget has not yet been passed. They have demanded a house discussion on President Ram Baran Yadav’s “unconstitutional action” over-riding the Maoist government’s decision to sack the then Army Chief General Rukmangad Katawal in early May — a demand rejected by the other parties in government who see no wrong in what the President did. The Maoists have also launched a street movement, with the slogan of instituting “civilian supremacy” and a “Maoist-led national government.” Continue reading Engaging Nepal: some difficult questions