Nepal's parliament elected former Maoist rebel chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal or Prachanda, as he is popularly known, the prime minister on Wednesday after predecessor K.P. Oli resigned rather than face defeat in a vote of no-confidence.
Dahal, 61, won 363 votes out of the 573 cast in the 595-member parliament, Speaker Onsari Gharti said. Prachanda—a 'nom de guerre' which means 'fierce'—led a decade-long insurgency that toppled a Hindu monarchy in the country.
He becomes the 24th prime minister in 26 years since the Himalayan nation adopted multi-party democracy in 1990 and the eighth since the 239-year-old monarchy was abolished eight years ago.
Modi assures India's support to Prachanda
Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to Prachanda to congratulate him and assured India's full support. During the telephonic conversation, Modi also invited him to India.
"Spoke to Nepal's PM-elect Pushpa Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda' ji & congratulated him. Assured him of our full support & invited him to India," Modi tweeted.
Prachanda was elected the prime minister for the second time and his elevation is expected to bring much-needed political stability in the country bogged down by deep divisions over the new Constitution.
India also has its reasons to be relieved given that it has had an anxious relationship with the Himalayan nation under Oli, after the promulgation of a new constitution last September.
Though known to have an anti-India stance, according to observers, Prachanda seems to have softened his position and his elevation may be good for Indo-Nepal ties which experienced turbulence under Oli.
His party also signed a three-point agreement with the Madhesi Front to secure support from the Madhesi parties for their bid to form a new government led by him.