Pushp Kumar Dahal “Prachanda”, Nepal’s top Maoist leader, was sworn in as Prime Minister on Wednesday. He has to properly mend the country. Nepal’s extreme poverty is on account of poor management of its potential and shortsighted politics. After the 240-year-old monarchy was dislodged by the 1996-2006 Maoist insurgency, the country’ democracy dividend hasn’t quite materialised. To unite Nepal, Prachanda must not only sensibly reintegrate his former Maoist fighters into the government and its security forces (without seeking for these irregulars parity with professional soldiers and the police), but also win back the trust of Madhesis, whose electoral and political interests were disregarded in framing the post-monarchy Constitution last year.
These people constitute more than half Nepal’s population and have close bonds with India. They inhabit the border belt. Prachanda would also do well to resist temptations of trying to play the China card against India. His predecessor K.P. Sharma Oli failed on all the three counts. He didn’t integrate the Maoists, virtually worked against Madhesis, and behaved as though India did not exist as a positive factor for his country. Prachanda withdrew his party’s support to Mr Oli. We hope Prachanda will be wise from his observation of recent history, and not behave as he did when he was PM for a short period in 2008-09. He has promised to unite the country and work for a national consensus. His government has been formed with the Madhesis’ support. He should play his politics with all these factors in mind.