By Dr. S. Chandrasekharan.
In one of my earlier updates on India and the Maoists in Nepal in update number 230 dated 19 November, 2010, I made two observations and these need to be reiterated here once again in the context of the problems faced by India in dealing with the Maoists. Those were:
1. India should at no point let down the genuine democratic parties in Nepal.
2. Maoists continue to abuse India and they think that it is the only way to get India’s attention and get the desired results from India and probably they are right.
The Maoists continue to accuse India of interference and use the term ‘expansionist’ in line with what the Chinese had been referring to India whenever they want to criticise India indirectly or through proxies.
I mention this because of the recent incident in Nepal, where the Indian Ambassador was greeted with black flags by a violent crowd of Maoist cadres at Tikapur on the 29th of last month. The crowd that had assembled to obstruct the ambassador had become so unruly that the Police had to resort to a lathi charge. 13 Maoist cadres and 3 Police men were injured in the incident. 20 Maoist cadres including the local leader Hari Gyawali were arrested by the Police.
Two days prior to this incident, the Indian Ambassador Shri. Rakesh Sood met the Maoist Chairman Prachanda at the latter’s residence. The Vice Chairman of the party, Narayan Kaji Shrestha was also present during the meeting. Last time the Ambassador met the Maoist chief in this fashion was two years ago.
Press reports reported mischievously that the Ambassador visited the Maoist leader to protest
against the visit of the high level Chinese military delegation that included the PLA Chief. Other reports indicate that the meeting was to formally invite Chairman Prachanda for a visit to India.
Prachanda had been angling for an official visit to India ever since the Chinese advised him during his visit to the Shanghai Expo. Prachanda did mention in his press conference that he had been asked by the Chinese leadership to make up with India and that he would visit soon but not ‘immediately’ as that would give the impression that he is caving in to India! .
Since then, emissaries have been sent to India unofficially to tell the Indian leadership that the Maoists are not really against India and perhaps there is a view now amongst the leadership that India after all could and should do business with a Maoist Nepal. No problem with that so long as India is aware of the Maoist ultimate objective continues to be going in for a people’s republic in Nepal and for “inclusive democracy” ( whatever that means) in Nepal. The threat of going back for a people’s revolt also continues.
Right now, the Maoists have successfully divided the UML and their objective appears to be to consolidate the leftist political landscape in Nepal.
A lawfully elected government led by Madhav Nepal was undermined by supporting one section of the UML and even entering into a secret deal to get the chairman of the UML Jhalanath Khanal elected as the Prime minister. This secret deal was not known to anyone including the Indian embassy and even to the UML leadership group led by Madhav Nepal and K.P.Oli. ( My updates may be referred to). It is a question of time before the home ministry portfolio is also handed over to the Maoists.
It was in end 2005 that India brokered an agreement between the Maoists who were then fighting a “people’s war” against the then lawfully elected government under the 1990 constitution of Nepal and the seven party alliance that was agitating against the unilateral take over of the administration by the King.
The costs of ten years of people’s war has been officially announced by the present government on the 29th of last month. 115,000 people were victims of the armed conflict. 17,000 people lost their lives, 78,675 people were displaced 1600 people have disappeared and 12657 persons have lost their properties. These are chilling figures and the Maoists are yet threatening to go for people’s revolt again!
It was not that the Maoists were winning and the initial approach to India was made by the Maoists to facilitate a deal. It was not considered as an “interference” then. It was also the assessment of the then Indian government that the Maoists were seriusly looking for breaking from the past and joining other mainstream political parties for a genuine multi party democracy.
The Maoists have not so far declared their interest in a multiparty democracy. Their fifty thousand strong YCL with its para military structure is still in place and are active despite promises made innumerable times by Prachanda himself of disbanding it. What is more, the party has taken a decision to start a “Public Civil Volunteer Bureau” to serve the nation in “development related works.” Netra Bikram Chand, a top Maoist leader and a close aide to Prachanda has been made the coordinator. This is “mass mobilisation” by the back door and is in addition to the YCL!
It looks that India is again coming round to the view that the Maoists are genuinely seeking a multiparty democracy and that it should do everything to help them. If that is so, let India take a firm view and go ahead rather than making half-hearted efforts to pamper them sometimes or keep them away some other times as is being done now.