Party colleague punches Bhattarai

A protective ring was formed around the prime minister who fell after he was attacked by Janardan Sharma,a former minister and central committee member of the party.

Written by Yubaraj Ghimire | Kathmandu | Published:July 21, 2012 1:36 am

Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai was rescued by security personnel after a senior leader of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoists (UCPN-M) punched him during the national plenum of the party on Friday.

A protective ring was formed around the prime minister who fell after he was attacked by Janardan Sharma,a former minister and central committee member of the party. The incident occurred when delegates belonging to the prime minister and party chairman Prachanda’s factions argued with each other over who should speak on behalf of provincial committees at the plenum.

While Bhattarai supporter Baliram Saha was speaking,Sharma rushed to the dais and attacked him. Saha was booed by pro-Prachanda delegates and the situation quickly deteriorated when Sharma targeted the prime minister as well. In the chaos that followed,Bhattarai supporter Prabhu Saha,also a former minister,threw a chair at party chief Prachanda,who left the meeting in panic after adjourning the session.

Bhattarai had been criticised earlier by members for “mortgaging national interest to India” by signing the Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPPA) agreement. The prime minister was to respond to the charge on the last day of the meet. “You have signed unequal treaty with India,and you are planning to hand-over Nepal’s airports to India,” yelled Ishwari Bhandari,a member of the party’s Foreign Affairs Committee.

The police took over the Rastriya Sabha Griha,the venue of the plenum,and top leaders were evacuated from the hall. The event,was a disappointment to both Prachanda and Bhattarai who had previously declared that the party was united and that factionalism had ended.

Prachanda called for an emergency meeting of the politburo and summoned the plenum back promising that there would be two speakers each from Bhojpura province representing both the Bhattarai and Prachanda factions. The party decided to bar media representatives from entering the premises in the aftermath of the attack.

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