Tainted Maoists lose PM poll

Kathmandu, Sept. 5: Dogged by allegations of trying to buy MPs and fighting a leaked tape that purportedly caught a senior aide seeking Nepali Rs 500 million from a “friend” in China, the Maoist chief, Mr Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda, crashed out of Nepal’s prime ministerial race, ending the former rebels’ hope of recapturing power through Parliament.

Mr Prachanda failed to inch towards even simple majority in the 599-member Parliament after a power-brokering deal with regional parties broke down following the bribery scandal.

The ruling Communists and a front of four parties from the Terai plains continued to sit on the fence as they had in the five earlier rounds too.

Facing dissent in his own party and a souring of relations with the international community, Mr Prachanda could poll only 240 votes with 101 MPs voting against him and 163 abstaining. His rival, the Nepali Congress leader, Mr Ram Chandra Poudel, Mr Poudel fared even worse, garnering just 122 votes while 242 voted against him and 172 abstained.

The Maoists have denied the allegations of horsetrading and blamed India, saying the Indian external intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing fabricated and distributed the tape as a conspiracy to ensure Prachanda’s defeat.

The Nepali Congress and CPN-UML have demanded an investigation into the matter to reveal the truth. The Nepali Congress called it a “dangerous conspiracy” and wanted a probe into the tape.

The Indian ambassador, Mr Rakesh Sood, met the Prime Minister, Mr Madhav Kumar Nepal, and assured him of India’s full support in the democratisation of the country.

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