Kathmandu: CPN (Maoist Centre) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal aka 'Prachanda' was on Sunday all set to make a comeback as Prime Minister of Nepal, a week after the Nepali Congress and Madhes-based parties pledged to throw their weight behind him.
The resignation of Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli earlier in the day paved the way for Prachanda to become the 39th Prime Minister of the Himalayan nation.
He got the coveted post in 2008 for the first time when the Maoists became the largest party in the Constituent Assembly but the stint did not last beyond one-and-half years.
Though the Nepali Congress and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre) had moved a no-confidence vote against Oli, which was due for continued discussion followed by a vote thereon in Parliament on Sunday, Oli announced his resignation minutes before the discussion — begun on Friday — recommenced.
According to the constitutional provisions, President Bidhya Devi Bhandari will call on Parliament to install a consensus-based government within seven days, which seems a difficult proposition as the second largest party — the Oli-led Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) — is all set to stay in the Opposition.
The single largest party, the Nepali Congress, has already extended its support for Prachanda and signed an agreement that the former Maoist leader will lead the government for the first nine months.
Thereafter, Prachanda will hand over the leadership to Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba.
As per the agreement, Prachanda will hold local elections that have not been held for the last 20 years, while Deuba will hold elections to the provincial assemblies and Parliament during the remaining nine months.
Prachanda has secured the support of the NC and other small parties so that it is easy for him to ensure a majority votes to install the new government.
"We will try our best to install the government based on consensus but it seems difficult. So after the expiry of the seven-day deadline, we will stake claim to form the party on the basis of a majority," said NC leader Ramesh Lekhak.
Out of 298 seats required to form the government, the emerging alliance can garner the support of 331 lawmakers if Madhes-based parties under the Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha vote in favour of Prachanda.
The NC and the CPN (Maoist Centre) have 207 and 82 seats, respectively, while the Morcha with seven Madhes-based parties has 39 seats. The CPN (Samyukta) has three seats.
A day after pulling out of the government, the NC last Wednesday officially endorsed the seven-point deal reached between Dahal and NC President Deuba on government formation.
The Madhes-based political parties — though decided on toppling the Oli-led government — have not yet made up their mind to join the new government under Prachanda.
Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum-Nepal Chairman Upendra Yadav confirmed that the Morcha had agreed to vote against Oli.
"The Morcha will take appropriate decision depending on how things unfold," said Yadav.
Some Madhesi leaders had hinted that they will, in principle, extend "support to topple the Oli government".
The Maoist leaders said the SLMM has so far agreed to oust Oli and participate in the new government's formation if the NC and the CPN (Maoist Centre) "agree to address the Madhesi parties' demands on restructuring of the provinces".
The CPN (Maoist Centre) bid to form a new political alignment received a major boost after the Madhes-based parties agreed to oust Oli.