Maoist leader Dr. Baburam Bhattarai has been elected the new, 35th, Prime Minister of Nepal. The speaker of the Constituent Assembly, Subash Chandra Nembang, declared him the winner in an election that saw Ramchandra Poudel challenging Bhattarai. Dr. Bhattarai is the vice-chairman of the party and was the finance minister in the Maoist Chairman Prachanda-led government two years ago. He secured 340 votes vs Poudel’s 235 votes out of 594.
People across the political divide have supported BRB for the for primeminister mainly because of his impressive performance as finance minister in Prachanda cabinet and because of his liberal, intellectual image that has made him darling of media and middle class. Here is an article that gives an idea as to how popular BRB is among general public: An Encounter with a Baburam Bhattarai Supporter in Delhi
House proceeding details: Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, who proposed his deputy as a candidate in the prime ministerial race, said Bhattarai was the best candidate to become the next prime minister of the country. Addressing the House, Dahal remarked that the new government—be it under the leadership of Maoist or Nepali Congress (NC)—would topple it failed to make progress in the peace and constitution drafting front. The Maoist chairman, who is often criticised for failing to implement the pacts signed in the pasts, could not hide his dissatisfaction at the criticisms by the other political parties while stressing on the need for implementing the past pacts by all the political parties.
Maoist candidate Baburam Bhattarai informed the House regarding his candidacy and urged his opponent Poudel to support him and quit race. “Let’s not disappoint the nation anymore and strive for consensus,” said Bhattarai. “The doors to a consensus government are still open though we are heading for a majority government.” Bhattarai vowed to strive for peace and consensus if he was elected as the prime minister.
Likewise, another prime ministerial contender and Nepali Congress vice-chairman Ram Chandra Poudel urged all the lawmakers to support him in the prime ministerial elections to institutionalise the changes earned so far. NC General Secretary Prakash Man Singh, who proposed Poudel as a candidate in the PM polls, said that the twin tasks of peace and statute would be completed only if the next government is formed under the leadership of Poudel. Singh also said that his party was looking forward to lead the next government as other two parties—Maoists and the CPN-UML—have already failed to conclude the twin tasks during their premiership. Similarly, NC leader Bimalendra Nidhi said the peace process would gain momentum if Poudel was given an opportunity to lead the next government.
WHO IS BABURAM BHATTARAI?
Currently one of three Vice-chairmen of UCPN (Maoist) Baburam Bhattarai was born on June 18, 1954, in Belbas, Khoplang VDC, Gorkha district in a low – middle class peasant family.
Battarai, who has a huge repute for his intellectual and political activism in Nepali politics, began formal education Amar Jyoti Janata Secondary School in Gorkha in 1963 and went on top the SLC examinations from the same school in 1970. After this, he joined I.Sc. in Amrit Science Campus, Kathmandu and later went to India for further study under the Colombo Plan Scholarship. He completed his PhD degree from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, in 1986.
While in India, he came in contact with top political leaders of Nepal like B.P. Koirala, Tulsi Lal Amatya, Mohan Bikram Singh, Rishikesh Shah and plunged into democratic politics.
In 1981, Bhattarai became member of the Communist Party of Nepal. He returned to Nepal in 1986 and fully devoted himself to politics. During the anti-Panchayat people´s movement of 1990, Bhattarai was the Central Spokesperson of United National People´s Movement. Since 1991, Bhattarai played an instrumental role in shaping the revolutionary path of communist movement in Nepal as a Politburo Member of CPN (Unity Centre) and later of CPN (Maoist).
In 2003, he led the Negotiating Team of CPN (Maoist) for peace dialogues. He is widely acknowledged as one of the architects of the Joint People’s Movement of 2006 and as a key negotiator of Comprehensive Peace Accord signed in November 2006.
In the first ever Constituent Assembly elections held in April 2008, he was elected from Gorkha constituency no. 2 and served as Finance Minister in the subsequently formed Maoist government led by Pushpa Kamal Dahal.
He is married to Hisila Yami and has a daughter named Manusi.
INDIA CONGRATULATES BHATTARAI (and that was very quick!): Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the phone congratulated Prime Minister-elect Dr Baburam Bhattarai for the latter´s election as the prime minister. The Indian prime minister called Bhattarai Sunday evening to extend congratulation to the prime minister-elect.
In a congratulatory letter to Bhattarai, the Indian prime minister said, “I have great pleasure in conveying to you the best wishes of the government and people of India in your high responsibilites and all success in the task of consolidating the democratic gains made by the people of Nepal.” Singh has also expressed India´s readiness to extend assistance to Nepal under Bhattarai´s leadership. “India remains committed to providing all assistance in building a more stable, democratic and prosperous Nepal, which will add to the security and prosperity of the region,” Singh said in the congratulatory statement, circulated by the Indian embassy Kathmandu.
Saying that he was looking forward to working with Bhattarai to strengthen and deepen the close civilizational and fraternal links existing between our nations, Singh has also extended an invitation to Bhattarai to visit India.
SLMM, Maoist sign a pact: Earlier today, the meeting of Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha (SLMM), an alliance of Tarai-based parties, had decided to support UCPN (Maoist) candidate Babu Ram Bhattarai at the prime ministerial elections. SLMM decided to support the Maoist after a four-point deal was signed between them. SLMM and Maoist held a joint press meeting shortly after their meeting to publicise their decision. Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Chairmen of the five constituent parties of SLMM signed the four-point agreement. SLMM is the fourth largest party in the CA, and therefore can play a crucial role in the elections today.
The four points of the deal are:
1: About the integration and rehabilitation of the Maoist Combatants.
2: About the remaining tasks of the peace process.
3: About the new constitution
4: Other important issues of the general agreements.
With the support from UDMF which has 65 votes in its fold, the UCPN (Maoist), with its own 237 votes, now seems certain to cross the halfway mark in the 601-member parliament. 298 votes will be sufficient for a candidate to clinch a clear majority as the current strength of the House is only 594.
UML vote for Paudel as PM
A standing committee meeting of the third-largest party in parliament CPN-UML, third largest party in the Constituent Assembly- has decided to vote in favor of Nepali Congress (NC) candidate Ram Chandra Paudel for the prime ministerial post. Accusing the UCPN (Maoist) of backtracking from the party´s previous stances, the UML said the party´s lawmakers would vote for Paudel if the Maoists fail to show more flexibility on concluding the peace process. And, the Maoists did nothing in this regard as of late Saturday evening. “The CPN-UML has decided to vote for the NC candidate in the election on Sunday if the UCPN (Maoist) is not ready to enter into a written agreement, which would be acceptable to major political parties, on peace process and to ensure implementation of such an accord latest by Saturday,” read the statement issued by the party secretary Yubaraj Gyawali after the standing committee meeting.
The UML said the party will be positive to the UCPN (Maoist) claim for the government leadership immediately after the peace process is taken to conclusion. UML accused the Maoists of backtracking from its past commitments with regard to finalising the integration modality, defining the jurisdiction, rank determination, setting the numbers and the rehabilitation package to be offered to former Maoist combatants. “We have come up with a conclusion that the Maoists have further complicated the peace process. The proposal and the commitments made public by the UCPN (Maoist) clearly establishes that,” the party said.
UML leaders who have soft corners for Maoists also conceded that the possibility of supporting Maoist candidate Dr Baburam Bhattarai is nil. “Now, the possibility of forging an alliance with the Maoists has ended,” Gyawali told Republica daily. Even Bamdev Gautam, who is close to Maoist leaders, didn´t object to the decision to support Paudel. “There was no ground to lobby for voting in favor of Bhattarai as the Maoists themselves didn´t come up with a convincing proposal,” said a leader close to caretaker Prime Minister Jhala Nath Khanal.
Sets conditions for NC: The UML has decided to reach an agreement in writing with the NC on various issues prior to casting vote in favor of Paudel. It has demanded that the NC should take effective initiatives to take the peace process to a logical conclusion and promulgate new constitution from the Constituent Assembly. “The NC should take firm stance in favor of peace, democracy, democratic constitution, human rights, good governance, socio-economic transformation and continuity of constitutional system,” the statement said. “It should be ready to settle all kinds of challenges that may arise due to the transitional situation.” The UML has also asked the NC to finalize the new budget, which is already presented by Prime Minister Khanal but is yet to be endorsed by the House. “The NC will have to quit the government leadership if the party fails to play the role as said aforementioned,” the UML said.