Saran’s exit marks the departure of the last Indian player in the Indian establishment who was behind the ground-breaking 12-point agreement that initiated the process of ending conflict in Nepal
By Dinesh Wagle in New Delhi
The Wagle Notes
Shyam Saran, former ambassador to Nepal and the man who once played a crucial role in Nepali peace process has on Friday (yesterday) announced resignation from the post of Indian Prime Minister’s Special Envoy on the India-U.S. nuclear deal and climate change. The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) accepted the resignation to be effective from March 14.
Despite holding a position that has little to do with Nepali politics Saran is said to be providing his inputs on India’s Nepal policy informally because of his deep understanding of the Nepali politics. He hasn’t publicized the reason for resignation but news reports have speculated that he fell out with India’s pro-active Environment minister over India’s approach to international climate change negotiations. Some reports say he was unhappy with the latest development at the PMO that saw Shiv Shankar Menon, a former foreign secretary three years junior to him, elevated to the post of National Security Adviser to the PM with Minister of State status. Whatever the reason, Saran’s exit marks the departure of the last Indian player in the Indian establishment who was behind the ground-breaking 12-point agreement that initiated the process of ending conflict in Nepal.
Six years ago when India announced Saran, the then Indian ambassador to Nepal, as its new Foreign Secretary many in Kathmandu had become happy thinking that the man who understood Nepal well reached the top bureaucratic position in South Block (the building that houses the Indian Foreign Ministry). Nepal saw a royal coup six months after Saran assumed the post on 31 July 2004. A few months later, agitating political parties and the Maoists signed the 12-point agreement in New Delhi with Saran’s active participation. Based on the agreement, the parties waged the historic 2006 People’s Movement that finally made the nation a republic. Referring to the 12-point agreement, Indian Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee last year (as Foreign Minister) claimed credit for bringing the Maoists into mainstream politics in Nepal.
Saran believes that Maoists shouldn’t be marginalized and the peace process should be taken forward by bringing all political parties together. But in recent months, particularly after the unexpected results of Constituent Assembly in Nepal that saw the Maoists emerge as the largest party, the Indian establishment seems to have put that view on the back-burner. It could just be an interesting coincidence from the Nepali perspective that Menon who played a direct and indirect role to oust Maoists from the government in Nepal has become the adviser to the PM on foreign affairs while Saran who played a role to forge the 12-point agreement is ousted after losing the battle with Menon.