By Shashi P.B.B. Malla
Baburam Bhattarai’s recent visit to New Delhi has brought various truths to the foreground. He was known to have a soft heart for Indian interests and now he has proved it again. To put pressure on the ruling coalition to promote ‘consensus politics’ in the constitution-drafting process, he travelled to the Delhi Durbar to receive their blessings. He was widely criticized, including by the breakaway CPN-Maoist, but he stuck to his guns and insisted that his pro-India views reflected the party policy of the UCPN-Maoist.
During an interaction in New Delhi attended by former ambassadors and representatives from India’s leading think tanks, Bhattarai had the audacity to declare that India’s role was crucial in Nepal’s peace process and its prosperity. Coming from a former PM and current vice president of the UCPN-M, this was outrageous and completely unacceptable for all those that have the interests of Nepal at heart. Coming from a senior party leader that once advocated ‘tunnel warfare’ against India, this was a complete volte-face. Unabashedly, he insisted that he was “not at all perturbed by what others say because I act and speak keeping in mind the ultimate welfare of the people and the state.” Thus spoke a supposedly seasoned statesman and patriot!
Furthermore, he reasoned that being a neighbour of Nepal, the Indian government, political parties, their leaders and civil society had legitimate and deep concerns about the current scenario in Nepal. He did not, of course, add that China, also a very close neighbour, which equally had bona fide interests in the country did not at all attempt – unlike India – to micro-manage Nepal’s domestic affairs (which should have been solely Nepal’s concern). He also did not mention the fact that the present political imbroglio in the constitution-drafting process was the result of the intractable position of the UCPN-M and the 30-party alliance led by it. These had become part of the problem, not the solution. Bhattarai’s seditious attempt, openly inviting India to interfere in Nepal’s internal affairs should be fully condemned.
It should be recalled that regarding the UCPN-M’s and even the country’s policy vis-à-vis India (in and out of government), the UCPN-M has been blowing hot and cold. The Indian establishment must be wondering what to make of the comrades inspired by the great tactician and strategist Mao Zedong, who after all taught the Indians a lasting lesson in the border war of October 1962. In any case they must be feeling perplexed being bitten again and again from the dogs that they fed during the period of the infamous “People’s War”. It is well documented, and we have it also from various horses’ mouths (Indian President Pranab Mukherjee, Prof. S.D. Muni) that the Indian establishment was an indirect participant during the Maoist insurgency. With help in arms and ammunition and regular training exercises for the rebels, they actively collaborated with them and were directly responsible for bringing together the ‘Seven Party Alliance’ (SPA) and the Maoists (= SPAM) in the Delhi or 12-Point Agreement (or Diktat?). This turned out to be the beginning of the end for the Royal regime and the Nepalese monarchy, the guardian of Nepal’s nationalism and sovereignty. The Maoists’ collusion with India was complete; after all Bhattarai had posed the fictitious question: Monarchy or Democracy?
Bhattarai made a superficial and inappropriate excuse for his utterance by stressing that he was “only explaining” to his Indian interlocutors what Nepal was going through at present in a transparent manner. He was in Delhi to talk about the peace process which was the issue of international concern, and that the neighbouring countries have an important role to play in this process. He is definitely guilt of double-speak and trying to take us for a ride. How come he only mentioned India by name and stressed its overwhelming concerns and right to interfere? India does not need Bhattarai to know intimately about Nepal affairs. The Indian Embassy in Kathmandu and the intelligence agency RAW know more to the smallest detail about developments here, and can, therefore, intimate New Delhi without recourse to informant Bhattarai. Moreover, the peace process as such has nearly reached its ‘logical conclusion’. What BhattaraI really wanted was India’s interference in the current impasse in drafting the new constitution and stopping the ruling coalition in its tracks in initiating the majority procedure.
Even the breakaway CPN-Maoist harshly criticized Bhattarai and condemned him for inviting foreign interference in Nepal’s internal affairs. He was accused of giving statements against “national sovereignty”. Even his party comrade in the UCPN-Maoist, Krishna Bahadur Mahara who had accompanied Bhattarai to New Delhi returned prematurely in disgust because of Bhattarai’s interaction and statements. This decision resulted because Bhattarai started holding “undiplomatic” meetings. Mahara also felt humiliated because Bhattarai arrogantly refused to include him in his meetings with Indian bureaucrats and politicians, among others, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, President Pranab Mukherjee and newly-elected Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. It seems that Bhattarai wanter to project himself as a close friend of India (even at Nepal’s cost) and increase his profile.
However, Bhattarai puffed-up with his own self importance, brushed aside all critique. He cited “the ruling class and traditional forces in Nepal” for not being pleased with his interaction for they believed that they had the monopoly in foreign diplomacy. This was, of course, utter nonsense. He further elaborated that the Maoist party and leaders were a force that represents “the suppressed class, expanding its relations outside the country”. Furthermore, they were developing “a new political culture in Nepal” and the “traditional forces” were finding it difficult to stomach this development. The raw fact is that the Maoists in totality were in decline. They had their moments of glory, but were now a spent force through their own weaknesses. They have been rejected by the Nepalese electorate and were seeking ways and means to revive themselves – one such being kowtowing to the Indians, even at the cost of the country’s sovereignty.
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Source: People’s Review Weekly