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Election of popular Maoist leader as PM raises hopes in Nepal

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As finance minister, Bhattarai won praise – even from his critics – for significantly exceeding government revenue targets by successfully encouraging more businesses and individuals to pay taxes.

“With Bhattarai as prime minister, Nepalese people no longer have a reason to complain about lack of leadership,” says Gunaraj Luintel, executive editor of Annapurna Post daily.

“Bhattarai has an image of an honest politician, efficient administrator and a well-read person. He knows the tasks cut out for him and can devote more energy than his unsuccessful predecessors to complete them. The country has a good prime minister now, on whom people have faith,” says Mr. Luintel.

Bhattarai’s goals

Bhattarai says he hopes to complete the peace process by settling the future of more than 19,000 Maoist former combatants, making concerted effort to draft a forward-looking constitution, and provide relief to people crushed by poverty, unemployment, and corruption.

“The country needs many things. But if I only manage to conclude the peace process and draw up a new constitution, I will have made historic achievements,” Bhattarai said addressing the parliament before the vote on Sunday.

Nepalese people appear to take Bhattarai seriously, despite having become increasingly distrustful of political leaders in the years since a special assembly was elected in 2008 to accomplish such goals.

“He is seen as a moderate in his party and has consistently argued with rivals in his party that neighbors, the international community and rival political parties need to be taken into confidence to steer the country ahead,” says Luintel. “He has the right kind of image to be able to balance international actors too, which is a must to steer forward the peace process,” Luintel adds.

Balancing the Maoist Party

But what is perhaps the biggest question facing Bhattarai today is how well his own party helps him perform as a prime minister.

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