That a political establishment that until the other day was thanking India for forging the mainstream-Maoist alliance against the monarchy has come around to asserting its sovereign right to promulgate a constitution it saw fit is admirable.
By Maila Baje
We seem to have decided to really give to ’em this time. Leaders such as Khadga Prasad Oli and Madhav Kumar Nepal, long perceived as pro-Indian, are castigating the Indians in unexpectedly strident tones and tenor. What’s more, two men New Delhi has long considered unfriendly – Chitra Bahadur K.C. and and Chandra Prakash Mainali – have landed jobs as deputy prime minister almost for the express purpose of raising the rhetoric levels.
As India set out to pre-empt our internationalization of their blockade by raking up, among other things, war-time atrocities committed by the Maoists, Deputy Prime and Foreign Minister very emotionally persisted in purveying the pains of a small and landlocked country at Geneva.
The protests against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi mounted by Nepalis in London supposedly surprised New Delhi, which, the Nepali media reported, prompted an investigation down south. Still, Modi got his host, David Cameron, to insert New Delhi-friendly language on Nepal in the joint communique. But that didn’t deter our foreign ministry from issuing a formal statement asserting our right to conduct our internal affairs.
So far so good. This was a fight Nepal had been itching to wage for quite a while. Yet things about it don’t pass the smell test. India’s hard line was attributed to the state elections in Bihar, which had become a prestige issue for Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). While we were elated by the BJP’s trouncing and the subsequent insurrection by party elders led by Lal Krishan Advani, Modi seems to have turned things to his advantage. The Bihar imbroglio has served as the Indian prime minister’s Hundred Flowers campaign, following which he thinks he has smoked out his detractors.
Both the Chinese and Nepalis made much about the evolving northern alliance, more us than them, of course. In the aftermath of the arrival of the first truckloads of Chinese oil in Kathmandu, Beijing has chosen to proceed carefully. Sure, we’re negotiating with the Chinese the legal and institutional arrangements needed to free ourselves from the clutches of India. Who knows how long all that might take?
While the Indian media has been jumping around that New Delhi’s policies have pushed Kathmandu into Beijing’s arms, official India seems remarkably unperturbed. That a political establishment that until the other day was thanking India for forging the mainstream-Maoist alliance against the monarchy has come around to asserting its sovereign right to promulgate a constitution it saw fit is admirable. But what of the alacrity to do so while alienating 40 percent of the population residing on prime real estate?
In view of the all this, Maila Baje is forced to wonder whether the Oli government is complicit in India’s efforts to call China’s bluff?