In wait-and-wait mode


Before Prime Minister KP Oli flew to Singapore on 18 August for the second time in a month, he made sure he left with a provocative statement to Parliament that he intended to serve out his entire term. He was trying to divert attention away from his own kidney ailment, and banish all thoughts of impermanence that anyone might have had.

In an outburst at a party meeting, the Prime Minister even chastised Madhav Kumar Nepal for rejoicing in his imminent demise. Once in Singapore, he held a much-publicised Skype conference call with the Cabinet in Kathmandu. Not much transpired, but the medium was the message — don’t count me out just yet.

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No surprise, then, that Nepal’s current politics is now in suspended animation, and its future course will be determined by the Prime Minister’s health prognosis. The PM’s transplanted kidney is producing too many antibodies, which has led to complications. He is getting plasmapheresis treatment to replace blood plasma. The procedure cannot be repeated too often and if he responds well, Oli should return in the next two weeks. But if he does not, he will need retransplantation of the kidney, for which he will need a donor, say Baluwatar insiders who were briefed by the PM’s doctors.

When Oli and Pushpa Kamal Dahal agreed to go half-half on prime ministership and to share the party chairmanship, Dahal may have calculated that Oli’s health would deteriorate and he would get a chance at the helm sooner rather than later.

This time, Dahal was designated stand-in, and he immediately convened an NCP party meeting on Monday to sort out the unfinished business of allocating positions within the united party.

In the triangular power struggle between Oli, Dahal and former Madhav Nepal, it is Nepal’s turn now to be isolated. In fact, Prime Minister Oli seems to see more of a threat from his erstwhile UML colleague than from the former Maoist Dahal.

Oli did manage to woo away Bamdev Gautam, and could still use him to thwart Dahal in future. Anything is possible between these three comrades, such is their distrust of each other.

Dahal himself can do nothing but be in wait-and-wait mode. Oli has another year to go till half-term, and Dahal could be betting he does not have to wait that long.

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