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PM is here to stay

Thursday, January 31st, 2013
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Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai has shown just what a shrewd politician he is by systematically removing all obstacles to ensure his longevity in power. As his party prepares for its first convention in 22 years this weekend, it looks like Bhattarai is here to stay on in Baluwatar.

PM Baburam Bhattarai and UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal in a meeting at Khula Manch on Wednesday. Photo: Bikram Rai

PM Baburam Bhattarai and UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal in a meeting at Khula Manch on Wednesday. Photo: Bikram Rai

He bought time in 2012 by playing off rival NC factions against each other, and confronted President Ram Baran Yadav by maneuvering the Army chief to oppose any move to replace the caretaker.

He then defused possible civil society opposition by floating trial balloons to nominate “independent” non-political candidates for PMship. He is now leaking to the press that he has a secret plan to make a Supreme Court Justice prime minister after the convention.

He defanged his own party Chairman, neutralising his efforts to replace his government as well as co-opting his support in the party convention by striking a deal not to challenge Dahal’s continuation as chairman of the party. There are also rumours he has assured Dahal that he will support his candidacy as the next president.

He has got the security chiefs on his side, convinced the international community that he alone can guarantee stability, and assured everyone he is for elections in May and it is actually the opposition that is against it.

The party convention, therefore, will be an anti-climax. Anyone expected fireworks between Dahal and Bhattarai in Hetauda will be disappointed. The deadline to announce a date for elections by 31 May will lapse, the NC-UML led protests will fail to get traction, and the coast will be clear for Bhattarai to continue for as long as he wants.

Kunda Dixit

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