As Nepal Is Getting Election Results, India Responds-1

A compilation of articles and commentaries in Indian media about CA election results of Nepal. Part one of two. here is part two

Indian diplomacy faces Kathmandu test
15 Apr, 2008, 0338 hrs IST, Nirmala Ganapathy, TNN (The Economic Times)

NEW DELHI: Maoists have privately assured the UPA government that they will continue to do business with India, but there is a deep sense of unease within the government over the resounding victory of Mr Prachanda’s red brigade in the elections to the constituent assembly.

The government is now unexpectedly faced with a political situation in Nepal where ground realities have changed and the party in the dominant position has had an uncomfortable and earlier hostile relationship with India. Traditional allies, Nepali Congress and Communist Party of Nepal, have been reduced to a minority forcing India to immediately start rethinking its Nepal policy. This is not the scenario that foreign policy mandarins had expected or wanted. And they are now finding themselves in a bind.

Mr Prachanda told India’s ambassador to Nepal Shiv Shankar Mukherjee on Monday that his party will continue to maintain a balanced relationship with India. But mere semantics have not assuaged the deep sense of unease that has crept into a relationship that has always been based on traditional ties.

The only solace for the UPA government, which expected a politically-balanced government in Nepal, is that all other players, both national and international, have also got it wrong. The US is now in a position where the dominant political party in Nepal is still on its terror list. China, Nepal watchers say, has been cultivating the Communist UML but that is likely to change. Nepal has shown that it is eager to cultivate China, evident from the way the interim government dealt with the Tibetan protests.

Vice-chancellor of Sikkim University, Prof Mahendra P Lama, who was an international observer for the elections, said this could be a good opportunity for India to update its relationship with Nepal. “Our framework of relationship had become obsolete, unrealistic and was ineffective for India and Nepal. Our response is not there. It is a traditional response.’’ He added that China, unlike India, has contiguously changed its strategy in Nepal.

But pitfalls for India are evident. India shares a long and porous border with Nepal and needs a friendly government in place. There is also the security dimension which includes impact on the Maoist movement in India. The links between Maoists and Indian extremists exists. As one security official pointed, Maoists may not have maintained ties with Indian counterparts but they have neither severed ties.

On the economic front, the Indian private sector involvement in Nepal had been showing signs of revival, with three Indian companies bagging hydel projects through bidding. However, the Left takeover and changes in policy could be unhelpful for industry, sources said.

Maoists have been demanding a renegotiation of the Nepal-India friendship treaty. They have continued, till recently, to indulge in inflammatory rhetoric, including demanding self determination for Kashmir and northeast, much to the alarm of the Indian establishment.

Critics say UPA government has continued to make the wrong moves in Nepal. “It (the government) has taken wrong steps. The Chinese presence has already increased. There are security implication that the present government has not understood from day one. It is a sad commentary on India’s foreign policy,” said N N Jha, a retired diplomat and former chief of the BJP’s foreign policy cell.

But clearly the backtracking has already started. External affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee called the Maoist “Maoists have successfully taken part in the democratic process in Nepal,” Mr Mukherjee was quoted as saying in Kolkata. The government has clearly started repositioning itself as it became evident that the Maoists were heading towards a majority. On Sunday, Mr Mukherjee said India would accept the mandate of the people and would work with the party in power.

“They have to start delivering governance, And they can’t do it without India,’’ official sources had said. Officials point out that the Maoists would have also to cut down the rhetoric once in power and get down to drafting a Constitution for Nepal. But it is India, which is surrounded by unstable and hostile neighbours, has a large stake in Nepal and will have to ensure that all the leverage it has does not disappear. (source)

Indian Maoists differ on victory in Nepal
Wednesday April 16 2008 10:03 IST (Express News Service)

KOZHIKODE: SERIOUS differences have cropped up among the Maoist groups in India over the developments in Nepal with the CPI (Maoist), the major outfit in the country, dubbing the participation of the Maoists in the elections as surrender.

The CPI (Maoist) feels that the Nepal developments have posed serious challenges to revolutionaries in India. “CPN (Maoist) leader Prachanda’s concepts like multi-party democracy and democracy in 21st century amount to total surrender,” said Ajayan Mannur, the state secretary of RevolutionaryDemocratic Front (RDF), the frontal organisation of the CPI (Maoist).

The Maoists in India will have to explain to the masses their stand on Nepal developments, especially when the reactionaries are using them to assert the futility of armed struggle.

“Nepal Maoists have said that their peace talks with the governments were moves before the last battle for capturing Kathmandu. But nothing happened,” he said.

As many as 240 more persons will be nominated in the Constituent Assembly for which elections was held. These people will be supporters of Indian expansionists and the imperialists. So the Maoists’ upper hand in the Assembly has no meaning, Ajayan said.

But, M N Ravunni, general convener of Porattam, the frontal organisation of the CPI-ML (Naxalbari), another Maoist outfit, sees the victory of Maoists in the elections as the culmination of the protracted people’s war waged by the Maoists in Nepal.

“It would be inappropriate to project that the Maoists in Nepal have realised the futility of armed struggle. There areviolent and non-violent forms of struggle. At this point they are using the non-violent tactics,” he said.

It is not a mean achievement that the Nepal Maoists have succeeded in ending the monarchy in the country. “The situation is complex and I am sure that the leadership in Nepal has the maturity to deal with it,” he said.

“Nobody can predict what will happen tomorrow, but as of now things are on the positive direction,” he said. The CPI (Maoists) had raised concern over the developments in Nepal earlier. Its spokesperson Azad had written hard-hitting articles on the issue and general secretary Ganapathy wrote two letters to the Nepal leadership when it asked the Indian Maoists to follow the Nepal path. It is learnt that CPI (Maoists) will support the dissident groups among the Nepali Maoists who still stick to the path of armed struggle. (source)

India set to do business with Nepal Maoists
16 Apr 2008, 0252 hrs IST , TNN (The Times Of India)

NEW DELHI: With the Maoists looking set to capture Kathmandu, India looks all set to engage the erstwhile guerrillas to strengthen ties with a democratic Nepal.

Senior government sources said that India’s ambassador to Nepal Shiv Shankar Mukherjee was in touch with the Maoists who on Tuesday continued their winning spree, adding that “we are ready to sit with them”.

The indication comes in the wake of widespread perception that the Maoists’ success was discomfiting for India which, not having factored in their impressive performance, was caught unawares because of their virtual sweep of the polls.

While stating that the government was ready to do business with Nepal, sources took pains to stress that India had no reason to mourn the demise of the ancient monarchy.

Quite to the contrary, India can hope to derive benefit from the end of status quo since the monarchy, for long, had been hostile to its interests. And to the extent the mandate for the Maoists can be interpreted as a “vote against Kathmandu”, India can expect fresh opportunities to repair ties which have frequently been strained by mutual suspicions.

The instability inherent in the outgoing scheme marked by a tug of war between an unpopular King refusing to cede power to the Koirala government, lacking in legitimacy itself, was not conducive for a breakthrough in the stalemated ties.

Sources said that polls had helped achieve two goals that India was keen on – democratisation and mainstreaming of Maoists.

“Getting into Parliament is as mainstream as you can get,” a source said in what clearly reflected government’s hope that power would have a sobering effect on the Maoists, encouraging them to dump the extravagant rhetoric that they used as jungle warriors.

Its pre-poll estimate may not have favoured Maoists with the tally they have achieved but the government here feels that their pre-eminence has made it clear whom “we have to deal with”, putting an end to uncertainty. “We see an opportunity to put the ties on an even keel,” senior sources said.

But there is also the recognition of risks of operating in unchartered territory. Maoists have resiled from their publicly declared intent to balance Nepal’s ties with India with the relationship they want to forge with China, and Prachanda’s statements expressing his keenness for good neighbourly relations with India are reassuring.

But Maoists remain unknown customers. Government here has also to contend with other variables, most important being how other players, Nepalese Congress, UML and Madhesis, are going to behave. (source)

Pranab Mukherjee calls Prachanda: congrats, we are willing to work with you on all issues
Pranab Dhal Samanta. Posted: Wednesday, April 16, 2008 at 0029 hrs (The Indian Express)

India’s signal: ready to talk on all issues but Maoists need to work on consensus on Constitution too

NEW DELHI, APRIL 15: With the Maoists set to take charge in Kathmandu, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee today spoke to Maoist leader Prachanda over the phone and conveyed India’s willingness to work with his party towards building a stable Nepal. He assured him of India’s support and congratulated him on the victory.

The call, sources say, indicates India’s willingness to abide by the democratic verdict and take the relationship forward so that the next important steps towards drawing up a constitution for Nepal can be achieved through consensus in the Constituent Assembly. It’s further learnt that Baburam Bhattarai is likely to be the Maoist candidate for Prime Minister while Prachanda, who made it clear today that monarchy will end in a month, will look to assume the post of President at a later date.

A couple of days ago, sources said, Nepal PM Girija Prasad Koirala had also spoken to Mukherjee, who made it clear that the verdict of the Nepalese people would have to be honoured. India has played a key role in ensuring that the political consensus for elections to the Constituent Assembly is not broken and that polls are conducted despite occasions when the process seemed to be falling apart due to inter-party rivalries.

There are several issues which will now test the Maoists. They have been in favour of a President with full executive powers in a federally administered Nepal. However, parties like the Nepali Congress have been votaries of the PM being the executive head of government. The details of this model will now be a subject of deliberations in the Constituent Assembly.

While India is not pushing for any particular approach, it has indicated in the past few days to the Maoists that all efforts must aim towards a consensus among all parties. In New Delhi’s view, it is important that the Maoists do not use their superior numbers to force a stand or create a divide among political parties as that would undermine the support for the Constitution in the long term. Already, the Communist Party of Nepal is making noises that it may not participate in the process. The need to finetune political strategies and present a more accommodative attitude towards other parties would be vital for the Maoists.

India, on the other hand, is not much concerned over any “anti-India” sentiment gaining ground with the Maoists winning the elections. South Block is clear that this was an “anti-monarchy” vote given that any party perceived to have links with the Palace has lost in the elections.
Also, the vote is being read as one against old-style dynastic politics given the poor performance of the Koirala family except for Shashank Koirala who was considered a bit of a family rebel. As for India-related issues projected by the Maoists, New Delhi is open to discuss revision of the 1950 Indo-Nepal treaty in case Kathmandu were to make the request.
In fact, there was an attempt in 2000 when both sides agreed to hold consultations on the subject. One round of foreign secretary-level talks also took place, but Nepal was reluctant to do away with some of the special benefits, particularly on free movement of goods and people with no bar on employment opportunities.

Even on the issue of employing Gorkha soldiers, India is willing to discuss the matter as there is domestic pressure from Gorkhas in India’s hill areas to recruit more from within the country. Sources said the number of Nepalese Gorkhas joining the Army has been reducing steadily for this reason alone. However, both these issues would be sensitive for any government in Nepal as it would qualitatively impact employment and business patterns.

The one issue on which India does have some apprehensions is the Maoist plan for a Communist style economy. Sources pointed out that market-unfriendly moves and massive nationalization could prove detrimental. While this is one of the key elements of the Maoist manifesto, the hope here is that there would be a degree of adjustment so that investments into Nepal are not hurt.
On the whole, India feels it is in a better position than most countries given that it led the diplomatic initiative which has now resulted in bringing an insurgent outfit into the political mainstream. More importantly, sources said, the stakes in power have grown for the Maoists after these elections and the onus would now be on them to ensure the political process succeeds. (source)

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A compilation of articles and commentaries in Indian media about CA election results of Nepal. Part one of two. here is part two

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3 thoughts on “As Nepal Is Getting Election Results, India Responds-1”

  1. this is our moment in history – time to change our policies with india as well. if there ever was a time where we could tackle issues with india it is now. this is a completwe overhaul of the status quo. we also have to make it clear that we will deal equally with china – without having to ask india’s permission.

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  2. Nepal Maoists are anti indian and India has to be rigid in reviewing India Nepal Treaty. Communist Goverment is dangerous for India. Nepalese Maoists have always criticised India for anything and everything be it a border issue or a trade issue. India should stick to what is good for India – nepal relationship as a neighbour. As Nepal is no more a Hindu kingdom naturally, India should restrict its help and donations and concentrate in improving first India’s poverty instead of helping Nepal who are always ungrateful.

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  3. Mr. Nair,
    I don’t know if the maos are “anti Indian” as the entire process for them to come to this point was engineered by your govt. But yes they have the signs of being rabid anti Indians when it suites them. But I’m sure your govt. has the medicine for that as well. Or maybe not.

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