Nepal Maoists blame Bihar zealots for poll fiasco
Apr 16, 2007 - 4:17:36 PM

Kathmandu, April 16 - Nepal's former Maoist guerrillas Monday blamed 'Hindu extremists' from the Indian state of Bihar as well as the US for the election fiasco, saying these foreign powers wanted to protect King Gyanendra and his crown.

Maoist chief Prachanda, who last year had been given a hero's welcome in Indian capital New Delhi, told the media here Monday that some foreign powers had been opposing his party from the beginning and finally the opposition had internally infected Nepal's major parties as well, including those in the government.

Without naming the US, his party's bete noir, the rebel chief flayed Washington, saying that after creating havoc in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Middle East, it was trying to sabotage the creation of a new Nepal by fomenting dissent in Nepal's southern Terai plains.

However, asked to elaborate who the other foreign powers were, he blamed 'Hindu extremists' from Bihar in India.

The Maoist chief said the carnage in Gaur town in the plains last month, in which 29 people were killed and dozens injured, showed the involvement of 'hired thugs' from Bihar.

'There have been rallies in Bihar in support of a Hindu kingdom in Nepal,' he said. 'These are people who support King Gyanendra. They do not want the election in Nepal to be held.'

Nepal's fragile peace process received a blow this month despite the Maoist guerrillas finally joining the government signifying an end to their decade-old armed insurrection.

Though the new eight-party government said it would hold the crucial election on June 20, the announcement became hollow after the Election Commission said it needed more time and better security in the country to be able to conduct the exercise.

'The agreement to hold the election - that would decide the fate of Nepal's 238-year-old monarchy - was the pillar of our pact with the opposition parties,' Prachanda said.

'If we can't keep the pledge to hold the election by June, there is no guarantee we can hold it later. It therefore means the prop for our pact is gone and we have to look for a new ground for understanding.'

The Maoist leader said his party was ready for the election in October-November or even next year if the ruling parties abolished monarchy and declared Nepal a republic through a proclamation in parliament.

According to an understanding between the eight ruling parties, if they feel King Gyanendra is trying to sabotage the election, parliament can abolish monarchy with approval of two-thirds of the legislators.

'Since the eight parties and parliament represent Nepali people, such a majority decision would be accepted by both the people and the international community,' Prachanda said.

The rebels are also ready to accept a second option: hold a referendum instead of the election to decide if the crown should be scrapped.

The idea has already been mooted by another communist party, the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist, the second largest party in parliament.

The Maoist chief said he had discussed the option with Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala in the morning and neither the premier nor his Nepali Congress party, the biggest in parliament, had shown any negative reaction.

After the Election Commission's bolt from the blue, the eight parties are expected to put their heads together to come up with either a fresh election date that will be acceptable to all or consider the other two options.

However, Prachanda warned that the talks should not go on for too long.

'We should be able to come to a decision in two to four days,' he said.

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