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Buddha invites Prachanda
- Maoist leader accepts first call from India
Bhattacharjee, Prachanda

New Delhi, May 2: Prachanda has agreed to visit Bengal on an invite from Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, the first from an Indian leader to the Nepal Maoist chief after his election victory.

CPM politburo member Sitaram Yechury, on a two-day visit to Nepal since yesterday, told The Telegraph from Kathmandu that he had passed Bhattacharjee’s invite on to Prachanda, and the Nepalese leader had accepted. No date has been fixed yet.

“Nepal Maoists are keen to learn from the Left Front governments in Bengal and Kerala in fields such as land reforms and social development,” Yechury said over the phone.

The Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), which emerged the largest single party in the recent elections, also wants to learn how to run coalition governments.

The CPM, too, will be keen to know more about Prachanda and his party, who till a few years ago were engaged in armed warfare against the state like the Indian Maoists who have been targeting Bhattacharjee’s party in Bengal.

Although the CPM has welcomed the Maoist election victory in Nepal, it has not gone overboard about it.

“They are not our fraternal party yet… (though) the Maoists have shed the path of arms and fought a democratic election,” a senior party leader said. “The CPN-UML (Communist Party of Nepal — Unified Marxist-Leninist) is our fraternal party.”

Delhi, too, has been cautious in dealing with the Maoists, whose victory it seems not to have foreseen. Foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee had called Prachanda to congratulate him and generally asked him to visit India sometime, but no formal invite has been sent.

Yechury’s trip to Nepal is the first by a senior Indian leader after the elections. The Rajya Sabha MP from Bengal, who had played a key role in the Nepal Maoists joining the mainstream, has over the past two days met several of their leaders, including Prachanda, Baburam Bhattarai, C.P. Gajurel and Mohan Baidya.

He also met leaders of the CPN-UML. “I had discussions with the Maoist as well as the UML leadership. The Maoists are following a consensual approach to carry others along with them,” Yechury said.

Prachanda, whose party has won 220 seats in the 601-member House, is mobilising support for a coalition government, which he is likely to head.

The Maoists want to study the Left Front’s land reforms -- which has been a focus area in both Bengal and Kerala -- and the southern state’s social development model.

“Nepal can benefit a lot from Kerala. Our achievements in education and healthcare can be of great value to them,” T.M. Thomas Isaac, Kerala finance minister, said.

But he added that the Maoists were yet to get in touch formally with the Kerala government.

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