As for India’s link road to Mansarovar that kicked up the latest brouhaha, New Delhi was planning to build that right around the time they were forging the 12-Point Agreement between the Maoists and mainstream parties.
By Maila Baje
If the Mahendra-sold-Kalapani canard has lost its luster in our latest national frenzy, it’s not because of overuse. When the obsession with cause so blinds you to effect, you sooner or later discern the in(s)anity of it all.
This is not to say that our national discourse is pointless. In fact, it has provided far greater clarity in terms of the past and future.
The anti-monarchy front got away with blaming King Mahendra for so long because attention had been diverted from their own role. Now the popular focus has gone all the way back to what Prime Minister Matrika Prasad Koirala’s Nepali Congress government may or may not have done in 1952. Ditto the elected government of Prime Minister B.P. Koirala. It was, after all, during the latter’s tenure that the deterioration in Sino-Indian relations hit Nepal’s frontiers the hardest.
More importantly, though, in their alacrity and persistence, the blame-Mahendra crowd has undermined its own argument. A sell-out, regardless of its transparency, is premised on an element of finality. Critics have accused King Mahendra for everything under the sun to make any further dent in his reputation. Consider this: When the seller can no longer speak for himself, and the buyer refuses to do so, the best interested parties can do is reconcile themselves to the status quo or find something better to do.
What we’ve discovered in the current debate is that the Nepali Congress, the erstwhile Unified Marxist-Leninists and Rastriya Prajatantra Party all acquiesced in India’s invention of a new source of the Kali River while signing and endorsing the Mahakali Treaty in the mid-1990s. That was when the sun was supposed to start rising from the west and Nepal was to begin exporting electricity via satellite.
As for India’s link road to Mansarovar that kicked up the latest brouhaha, New Delhi was planning to build that right around the time they were forging the 12-Point Agreement between the Maoists and mainstream parties. The Chinese had begun to rethink their traditional support for the Nepali monarchy during their strategic dialogue with the Indians. Beijing would have had less compunction in abjuring its stated recognition of Kalapani et al as disputed territory.
The Chinese had begun to rethink their traditional support for the Nepali monarchy during their strategic dialogue with the Indians. Beijing would have had less compunction in abjuring its stated recognition of Kalapani et al as disputed territory.
Perhaps the Indians didn’t have to work that hard in 2005-2006 for a quid pro quo with the anti-palace alliance. The Prachanda-Baburam Bhattarai missive three years earlier to the Atal Behari Vajpayee government pledging not to go against Indian interests must have trickled down enough to embolden the engineers, overseers and sundry employees.
Proponents of taking Nepal’s case to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) must have been subdued by reports that India may have won an opt-out from the ICJ on matters relating to its external borders. True, war cries continue unabated, but it’s not hard to associate them with efforts to resuscitate the Millennium Challenge Corporation compact. However the MCC compact fares this legislative session, it can scarcely contain the same combustibility on the streets.
No, Kalapani won’t ever disappear from our national firmament. There is too much at stake for our political class – and for the wrong reasons. Worse, it has become a far too useful attractive issue for non-Nepali quarters (yes, including the Indians) in our geopolitical milieu. With the coronavirus aftermath certain to make geography and politics far more impulsive sources of instability in the emerging order, Nepalis must recognize Kalapani for what it is before betting on a breakthrough.