A compilation of articles and commentaries in Indian media about CA election results of Nepal. Part two of two (here is part one).
Delhi paved the path for Maoists in Nepal
Arati R. Jerath. Wednesday, April 16, 2008 02:23 IST (Daily News and Analysis- DNA- India)
NEW DELHI: The best-kept secret of the stunning developments in Nepal is the quiet role India played in facilitating the return of the Maoists to mainstream politics.
Away from the arc lights, key Indian diplomats and security experts cajoled, counselled and pressured the Maoists and the established parties to sit across the table and negotiate a roadmap for democracy.
Not many know it, but the six-point comprehensive peace accord that paved the way for these elections was hammered out in New Delhi under a veil of secrecy. For months together, Indian interlocutors met with representatives of the Seven-Party Alliance led by the Nepal Congress and the Maoist Party to help them resolve their differences. The effort paid off and the accord was finalised at midnight on November 7, 2006.
The Indian hand is a sensitive issue and so government sources are reluctant to reveal the names of the key negotiators. But a well-placed source who did not wish to be identified said the Maoists readily acknowledge in private conversations that they owe India a great debt.
The process was not an easy one, however. The establishment here was deeply divided between the pro-democracy elements and the strong pro-monarchy lobbies made up of erstwhile royal families of India and the Indian army. In fact, even as secret negotiations were on to pull the Maoists into the election process, the government, under pressure from the pro-monarchists here, decided to resume arms supplies to the Nepalese army to crush the left-wing movement.
The move would have overturned the entire effort to pull Nepal back from a never-ending spiral of violence and anarchy and restore democracy.
In retrospect, the pro-democracy lobbyists in the government were spot on in their assessment of the popular mood in Nepal. The results are a resounding rejection of the king and the monarchy. “What the people are saying is they want a change,’’ said India’s former ambassador to Kathmandu, Deb Mukherjee. “They don’t necessarily want a Maoist government, but they wanted to express their displeasure with the mainstream parties.’’
The verdict has presented India both with an opportunity and a challenge.
“We have established a very good network with the Maoist leadership,’’ said a senior source closely involved with the pro-democracy efforts.
“It gives us an overwhelming advantage at the moment. We have to build on this advantage so that the leverage remains in our hands.’’
Mukherjee suggested that India will have to discard its old attitudes and mindset in dealing with Nepal. “Our elitist connections in that country have been the bane of our bilateral relationship. We also have an old association with the Nepal Congress. But this is 2008. There is a new awakening in Nepal. We will have to look at it differently,’’ he said.
The biggest challenge before the new government in Kathmandu is the integration of the Maoist cadres into the Nepalese army, traditionally a royalist institution. This, feel experts, is India’s biggest challenge as well. New Delhi can play a key role in making it a smooth process.
“We should use what influence we have to counsel restraint on both sides,’’ said the senior source. “Both should be advised not to force the pace otherwise there could be an adverse reaction.’’
The other challenge is to encourage the Maoists to accept multi-party democracy. Although their main leadership has endorsed the concept, there could be a temptation to move towards a monolithic dispensation that would negate the time and effort expended in nudging Nepal towards democracy.
“India will have to keep fully engaged and continue to play a discreet role,’’ the source said, adding that the demand to revise the Indo-Nepal Treaty would not pose a major problem. In fact, Mukherjee recalled that India had offered to revise the treaty eight years ago. “We should have an open mind on this,’’ he counselled. (source)
‘Maoist victory in Nepal positive development’
Monday, 14 April , 2008, 01:41
Bolpur: External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday hailed the victory of Maoists in Nepal, calling it a “positive development.”
“The Maoists have successfully taken part in the democratic process in Nepal,” Mukherjee said at a function here.
Recalling an article in a US newspaper that warned Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru when Communist Party of India (Marxist) came to power in Kerala, Mukherjee said: “Nehru had said they will fit into the country’s political mainstream as they had participated in the political process.”
He said India had told the Maoists in Nepal that they would benefit if they emerged from the shadow of the gun and violence.
According to Mukherjee, India would be better off with democratically elected governments in place in the neighbouring countries. (source)
‘Nepal result, a good opportunity for India’
Maoists now a normal, legitimate party: official, Maoist victory not the product of fear, India, Nepal entering uncharted territory. By Siddharth Varadarajan (The Hindu)
New Delhi: Seeking to dispel the impression that India was worried or shaken by the victory of the Maoists in Nepal’s Constituent Assembly elections, senior officials said on Tuesday that the government not only accepted the electoral verdict in its northern neighbour but also welcomed it.
India’s policy towards Nepal in recent years had two broad aims, the officials said. The first was the strengthening of democracy and the second the ‘mainstreaming’ of the Maoists. “Now you can’t get more mainstream than forming the government,” the official, who briefed a small group of journalists on condition of anonymity, said. As for democracy, the elections had finally brought into place a structure with greater legitimacy than the outgoing parliament which was elected nine years ago, he added.
The official rejected the view that the Maoist victory was the product of ‘fear’ and said this explanation was something the ‘Kathmandu elite’ was putting out. “You do not get a 67 per cent turnout with fear. The electorate has spoken clearly.” India, he said, saw the elections as “a clear, solid vote for change, and, ultimately, this is also what we want.”
The Nepali people, he added, wanted a “clean break” from the past and this offers India an opportunity to also re-examine the bilateral relationship to see how it could be taken forward. At the same time, the official admitted the two countries were entering “uncharted territory.”
Asked about India’s comfort level with the Nepali Maoists, the official said continuous contacts had been maintained over the past two years. The Maoist leader, Prachanda, had himself acknowledged the positive role India had played in pushing the peace process, he said.
The elections had made it easier for India to work with them, he added, since the Maoists were now a “normal, legitimate party.” Denying India was a ‘status quoist’ power, the official said the “Old Nepal was not working for us either so why should we be attached to it?”
India, the official said, was also in favour of the U.S. withdrawing its designation of the Nepali Maoists as a terrorist organisation. But New Delhi has yet to take a view on how hard it should press Washington on this point. “This is going to be difficult for them,” the official said. “So far they have welcomed the election without saying who or what. I think they will sit and wait on this for some time.” (source)
Sympathies may cross borders
Ishfaq-ul-Hassan. Wednesday, April 16, 2008 02:00 IST (Daily News and Analysis- DNA- India)
SRINAGAR: With Maoists poised to form the next government in Nepal, the Border Security Force (BSF) on Tuesday cautioned that Naxalities in India may get sympathies if not direct support from the newly empowered red brigade there.
“No direct links between Nepali Maoists and Naxalites in India have been established. But what turn it will take in the near future, your guess is as good as mine. When you have a Marxist government in Nepal, there may possibly be sympathies with Maoists here. It is too early to say anything,” said AK Mitra, BSF director general (DG) here.
Mitra was speaking to the media after the passing out parade of recruits at the Subsidiary Training Centre (STC) at Humhama.
Regarding reports of disappointment over the sixth pay panel recommendations, he said it is not necessary for the government to accept everything in the report.
“It is true that not every demand has been met. But it is not that we did not get anything. Yet these are only the recommendations and the government reserves the right not to accept them,” he said.
On reports of Kashmiri militants sneaking in through Bangladesh or Nepal, he said, “We cannot rule out the possibility of Kashmiri militants entering the hinterland from there but there is no definite evidence in this regard,” he said. (source)
India sees opportunity in Nepal
Amit Baruah, New Delhi, April 16, 2008 (Hindustan Times)
India views the emergence of a Maoist-led government in Nepal as an opportunity to improve relations with Kathmandu, official sources said on Tuesday. “We will work with the results.”
These comments came even as External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee described the April 10 Constituent Assembly elections in Nepal as a positive development.
After all the twists and turns in India’s policy towards Nepal, including a brief period of support for King Gyanendra, New Delhi’s policy of reaching out to the Maoists had held it in good stead.
New Delhi appreciated the comments made by Maoist chief Prachanda that the new government would have to work with India.
“There is enough basis for us to work together,” sources said about India’s past interaction with the Maoists.
India was also ready to engage the Maoists and talk about reworking some elements of the bilateral relationship between the two countries on which they had expressed concern. “We are quite happy to sit with them and see where this goes.”
Pointing out that India’s Ambassador to Nepal, Shiv Shankar Mukherjee, had already met Prachanda, the sources said that finally India could deal with a “legitimate structure” of authority in Nepal. The envoy was also in touch with other political parties.
“We’ve been in touch with them (the Maoists) for a long time, we are not coming in at this late stage,” they said, adding that Prachanda and his associates were aware of the role played by India in bringing Nepalese political parties together.
New Delhi’s assessment was that the results of the election showed that it was a “vote for change”.
According to the sources, India’s 60-year-long relationship with Nepal hardly had a “brilliant record” and a new opportunity had now presented itself.
India favoured a consensus-style government in Nepal, with the participation of the Maoists, the Nepali Congress and the Communist Party of Nepal (UML).
It was also aware that the process of transition in Nepal would not be an easy one. While King Gyanendra would have to learn to live like a commoner, the Nepali Congress and CPN (UML) had to adjust to the ascendancy of the Maoists. (source)
India hails Nepal election
Kathmandu, April 10 (IANS) Nepal’s neighbour India, which had been advocating that the critical constituent assembly election be held at the earliest, Thursday became the first foreign government to hail the holding of the twice-deferred polls. Navtej Sarna, the spokesperson at India’s external affairs ministry, issued a statement, calling the “successful” constituent assembly election in Nepal a “welcome and historic step towards realizing the aspirations of the people of Nepal for a democratic future”.
“This happy outcome is a product of the determination of the people of Nepal, with significant contributions by the political parties and the Election Commission of Nepal,” the statement said.
Saying that the constituent assembly would provide a platform for the people of Nepal to determine the manner of their governance and their future, India reiterated its commitment to stand by the people of Nepal in “the major tasks of democratization and development that lie ahead while building a stable, prosperous and peaceful Nepal”. (source)