(The Hindu, August 28, 2011)


Maoist leader Baburam Bhattarai was on Sunday (August 28, 2011) elected Nepal’s new Prime Minister defeating his Nepali Congress rival R.C. Poudyal, with the Terai-based Madhesi alliance extending crucial support to the former rebel leader.


The United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF), the alliance of Madhesi parties that has emerged as the fourth largest political force in the Assembly, decided to support Mr. Bhattarai.


Most of the smaller fringe parties and the alliance of Madhesi parties supported Mr. Bhattarai, who was elected from the Constituency No. 2 of Gorkha with a landslide victory in 2008.


Mr. Bhattarai was the Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister in the government led by Maoist chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda” in 2008.


No party holds a majority in the Constituent Assembly, which acts as the country’s interim Parliament.


The Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), which has 236 seats in the Assembly, is the largest party in the House. The second largest Nepali Congress, the main opposition, has 114 members followed by the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist), which has 107 members.


Caretaker Prime Minister Jhal Nath Khanal, who was elected after 17 rounds of polls in Parliament over a period of seven months on February 3, resigned on August 14 for failing to make “concrete” progress in the peace process.

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