The UML and Maoists have nationwide roots, and with the two now in an alliance, their combined organisational heft will be hard to match.
Political parties in Nepal want to be seen as standing up to India, the ‘old bully’, and appearing close to China, the much-needed ‘counterweight’ to India.
Nepal’s position is such that it stands to suffer when India and China get close, and even when they drift apart.
What explains this electoral success of UML, which is often projected as ‘xenophobic’ and virulently ‘anti-Madhesi’? Is it its organisational strength, its ability to mobilise foot soldiers or a combination of these factors?
With the coalition of Madhesi parties saying it will boycott the local elections – Nepal’s first in 20 years – the political elite must do what it can to convince it to be a part of the process.
Sher Bahadur Deuba, widely seen as Nepal’s prime minister-in-waiting and the supposed mastermind of the impeachment motion, has disgraced himself by meddling with the judiciary.
Nepal is at a crossroads. An immediate political settlement with the Madhesi parties will help the country avoid widespread electoral violence, the possibility of foreign powers calling the shots and the eventual failure of the constitution.
Despite their agendas of good governance and economic development, the new outfits are unlikely to match up to the big political parties that are masters of vote-bank politics and are deeply rooted in every part of the country.
The Constitutional condition of elections at federal, provincial and local levels by January 2018 is beginning to look very difficult
The Madhes issue remains unsettled with the Maoists and Nepali Congress unable to amend the constitution without the support of the UML.
If durable solutions are not found soon, extremist political factions are likely to gain ground as social frustrations increase.
Most of those accused of rights violations during the civil war will likely be pardoned, while there may be some monetary compensation for cases where abuses are established. Beyond this, there is unlikely to be much else.
The former prime minister will now sell his victimhood at the hands of India, a foolproof electoral strategy, while Pushpa Kamal Dahal and his party will struggle to convince the people about their decision to ditch Oli mid course.
Doctor Govinda KC has worked relentlessly to develop better medical care for ordinary Nepalis and has rallied against the commercialisation of medicine.
The biggest challenge for the political class will be to collectively work out a compromise that addresses the grievances of the marginalised communities, one that has the support of the CPN-UML.
The longer both sides don’t compromise on the Madhesh deadlock, the more the radicals’ hand will be strengthened.
Many people in Nepal seem to believe that it is important to outlaw ‘hate speech’. But this is a slippery slope. Who is to judge what constitutes hate speech? And how do you suppress it without inviting a terrible backlash?
Even with attention-grabbing moves like the last-minute cancellation of the president’s India trip, it is getting increasingly harder for Nepal’s prime minister to credibly blame India for his own failures.
There is a near unanimous feeling in the country that the Oli government has failed on the domestic front, particularly in its ability to rehabilitate those hit by last year’s disastrous earthquake.
If India and China are deepening their economic cooperation by setting aside their geo-strategic concerns, why can’t the two countries cooperate on Nepal as well?
While China doesn’t want to directly challenge India in Nepal, it will not let a crisis in Nepal go to waste.