By Kamal Raj Sigdel
Maoists Want Talks with India: The United Communist Party of Nepal- Maoist (UCPN-M) wrapped up its third phase of protests and declared a fourth one today (Tuesday) concluding that there was no point in holding talks with local parties since they were all controlled by New Delhi. It was more meaningful to talk directly with Delhi. The party has been hitting the streets demanding the establishment of civilian supremacy in the country. This is the first instance since the 12-point agreement in 2005 that the Maoist leadership has come out openly against what it calls Delhi’s intrusion in Nepali politics. The implication was that the entire peace process was basically between the Maoist party and New Delhi, with other Nepali parties as fringe players.
The party announced that a national awareness campaign would start from Dec. 25 and run for a month. If the speeches made at the party rally on Tuesday were anything to go by, the Maoists will adopt a strong nationalist pitch in the next few weeks. Still, the party leadership displayed ambivalence in its treatment of India. “We are ready to hold talks with New Delhi,” Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal told the party rally, held symbolically outside the Constituent Assembly where the Maoists are the largest party. “But what is the agenda? Are we citizens of a sovereign country?” There was the inevitable frustration with local parties. “For the last six months, I have reached out countless times to the parties, but they have all gone in vain,” said Dahal. “It’s a pity that the parties are helpless when it comes to taking any decision on their own as they are remote-controlled by New Delhi.”
India Reacts to Dahal Statement
By Dinesh Wagle
NEW DELHI – Influential Indian leaders and foreign policy buffs expressed a range of views on Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s statements pertaining to India on Tuesday. Dahal had said that he would only talk to New Delhi.
While some termed Dahal’s speech ‘a street talk by an angry leader’, others took it as a reflection of the ‘India will resolve it all’ tendency in Kathmandu.
The Ministry of External Affairs refused to comment. “We don’t want to comment on the internal issues of another country,” said a ministry official.
Former Foreign Minister Yashwant Sinha saw Dahal’s speech as contradictory. “They blame India for interfering and then say they want to hold talks with India,” Sinha said noting that the onus of resolving Nepal’s problems lies with Nepali leaders and elected representatives. According to him, Maoists in Nepal have been trying to impose what they wish. “But in democracy, it doesn’t work that way all the time. “When in the government, they wanted to impose decisions through the Constituent Assembly. Now they want to impose things through force.”
Former Indian Ambassador to Nepal K.V. Rajan said India has always been in touch with all political parties in Kathmandu in one way or the other. “The government could rethink if Dahal means to talk straight with the ministry or the Prime Minister’s Office, skipping the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu,” said Rajan.
Dahal offered five key agendas that should feature in the Nepal-India dialogue: 1) scrapping of the 1950 Nepal-India Friendship Treaty, revision of other unequal bilateral treaties, 3) revision of Indian policy to ensure Nepal’s right to international transit, 3) a tripartite agreement between Nepal, India and China on a long-term strategy for Nepal’s development, 4) Nepal-India border disputes, including Susta, and 5) the Indian army’s withdrawal from Kalapani.
Who is Kapoor to say like that? Dahal expressed serious concern over Indian Army Chief Gen. Deepak Kapoor’s recent remarks against the en masse integration of former Maoist combatants in Nepal Army. Gen. Kapoor’s statement came during Army Chief Chhatra Man Singh Gurung’s India visit that concluded on Saturday. Kapoor had said that “if Maoist fighters wish to join Nepal Army, they should follow the due recruitment procedure as other Nepali citizens aspiring to join the Army.”
“What is the point in India prescribing what should or what should not be done on the Army integration issue, which has been clearly outlined in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement?” asked Dahal, adding that silence on the part of Gen. Gurung was indicative of the fact that the current establishment could not speak against New Delhi “even if the silence could cost us our sovereignty”. Dahal asked: Who is that Kapoor to jeopardize Nepal’s Comprehensive Peace Agreement?”
Fourth Phase: Nationalism on Focus The fourth phase of protests, according to the Maoists, will focus on raising “national awareness” by “exposing clandestine deals” with foreign compradors. “We are approaching a situation when we have to fight not only local compradors but also their foreign masters,” said Maoist Vice-Chairman Baburam Bhattarai. The one-month protest, from Dec. 25 to Jan. 24, is scheduled to culminate in declaration of an indefinite general strike if the government fails to address the party’s demand for a House discussion on the president’s reinstatement of then Army chief Rookmangud Katawal. The Maoist leaders also took strong exception to the government decision to buy arms from India, stating that it breached the peace accord and was a part of the “plot” to derail the peace process and suppress the Maoists.