Kathmandu (Agencies): Jhalanath Khanal, chairman of the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist, managed to woo the Opposition Maoists on Thursday to become Nepal's 34th Prime Minister after 16 rounds of fruitless voting.

The politician, whose own party had pulled him out of the earlier elections, polled 368 votes and clear majority to seal a decisive victory after Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda withdrew his nomination to support him.

Prachanda withdrew his nomination after a last-ditch poll coalition with Khanal, blaming India for the fall of his government two years ago.

Taking a last swipe at New Delhi, Prachanda stated, "We want good relations with our neighbour but we won't brook interference. My withdrawal is to prove that we (Nepalis) can decide our fate on our own."

Khanal, 61, a previous information and communications minister, pledged his government would rehabilitate the nearly 20,000 fighters of the Maoists' guerrilla army within 90 days.

On the eve of the 17th round of election on Thursday, the stage had been set for a four-way fight. The contestants—Prachanda, Khanal and Ram Chandra Poudel of the centrist Nepali Congress, a new candidate—Deputy Prime Minister Bijay Kumar Gachhedar—were in the fray.

It is predicted that the 17th round would fail too, leading to two more rounds of sparring during the weekend.

Khanal played a major role in forcing his party peer Madhav Kumar Nepal to resign as Prime Minister in June 2008. Though Nepal's government had enjoyed majority support, Khanal claimed the country needed an all-party government and he was the man to accomplish the feat.

But when he failed to win wide support and was withdrawn by his own party, Khanal forced the communists to abstain from voting through all 16 rounds, contributing to the long impasse.

For that, he was slapped at a public meeting by a protesting former supporter, who became a national hero by the people for the act.

The new Maoist-communist government is going to be an alarming development for India. Prachanda's latest outburst indicates diplomatic ties with New Delhi are not going to improve.