Nepal ex-PM Bhatarai launches new front

In a significant political development in Nepal on Sunday, former Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai emerged with Naya Shakti, a new broad-based political front, even as clashes continued between the Nepali police and Madhesi protesters in the Terai region.

Nepal's former Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai  

Bhattarai, who resigned from the United Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) in September protesting against the new Constitution of Nepal, lashed out at the government of K P Sharma Oli for being responsible for bringing the nation to the current violent state.

''The current government's outlook is very conservative and they went ahead with the Constitution despite opposition from people like me. I even resigned from the party to make my point. But the situation is now too critical and we need a political solution at home and have to maintain good relations with neighbours,'' Bhattarai told The Hindu.

Naya Shakti will collect public opinion in the coming months and will launch a new political party soon.

Bhattarai's event organised to launch Naya Shakti was also attended by Upendra Yadav, chairman of Federal Socialist Forum Nepal, and Nepali Congress leader Pradeep Giri among others in an indication that the party will be aimed at creating a broad-based front to carry along the various sections of Nepali society.

''We are focused on securing the vision of cohesive and broad-based development for Nepal. Nepali society is impatient for development and in the coming months I will travel across Nepal to assess what kind of development Nepal aspires for,'' Bhattarai said.

Police firing kills 4
The launch of the new front was held in the backdrop of rising tension and police atrocities in the Saptari district where four persons were killed and 27 others injured in police firing. Giri has condemned the firing, adding that the ''ethnic constitution of the Nepali police force'' is to be blamed for the violence since the victims were Madhesis.

The violence in Saptari was simmering till late evening on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Oli called for an all-party meeting, which was boycotted by the United Madhesi Democratic Front (UMDF).

The meeting was called to discuss ways to end the blockade in the India-Nepal border but UMDF activists said the prime minister had succeeded in alienating Madhesi activists with his lack of preference for dialogue and such meetings were not serving any purpose.

''The current establishment of Nepal is unable to understand that Nepal is going to become a nation-state from being a state-led nation for a long time. Nepal's present leaders need to recognise the evolving political reality of Nepal,'' Giri, who had earlier boycotted the event to adopt the new Constitution, said.

Bhattarai said his 'Naya Shakti' would bring a new approach to the issues that splinter Nepal's internal cohesion and disturbing ties with India. ''We will have a new foreign policy in place as part of Naya Shakti and I hope to visit India soon.''