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Monday, May 4, 2009

Prachanda quits as Nepal PM; makes veiled attack on India

Kathmandu (PTI) Nepal plunged into deeper political crisis on Monday with Prime Minister Prachanda resigning after a thinly-veiled attack on India over its reported backing of the army chief whom he unsuccessfully tried to sack.

In a surprise move, the 54-year-old Maoist chief announced his resignation in a televised address to nation, a day after President Ram Baran Yadav rebuffed him by asking army chief General Rukmangad Katawal to continue in his post.

"I will quit the government rather than remain in power by bowing down to the foreign elements and reactionary forces," Pushpa Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda' said in remarks considered as a veiled attack on India.

He said his party is ready to maintain "cordial relations" with the neighbouring countries but will "not accept any intervention".

With the Maoist premier's resignation, former ally CPN-UML, which had withdrawn support due to differences over the move to sack Katawal, is said to be trying to form a new government with the support of Nepali Congress, the second largest party in Parliament which is considered pro-India.

However, Prachanda's party colleague and Finance Minister Baburam Bhattarai was more direct in his attack on India.

"The so-called democratic forces specially headed by the so-called democrats in New Delhi have been dictating their patrons in Kathmandu to side with the army and fight against the democratic forces," he said.

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