KAMAL RAJ SIGDEL
KATHMANDU, MAY 9
What was behind the collapse of Maoist government in Nepal? An Indian mistaken anxiety about "growing" Nepal-China ties, claim foreign relations experts citing recent Indian maneuvers as evidences.
Though the Maoists came this far based on the peace deal the 12-point agreement they signed with the Seven-Party Alliance (SPA) in New Delhi in 2005 -- brokered by India, political developments so far have gone against Indian expectation.
Maoist victory in the April elections, Unified CPN (Maoist) Chairman and Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal's visit to China prior to visiting India after assuming his office last year, senior Maoist leaders' visit to China, Dahal's intention to review Nepal-India Friendship Treaty have been among the major anxieties for New Delhi, says Arjun Poudel, a foreign relations expert.
However, as the Indian media portrayed, the most worrying activities of the Maoists for India in the recent times was Maoist Chairman Dahal's planned visit to China slated for late May, and his plan to sign a new Friendship Treaty with China. "India did not like the Maoist government to sign the treaty" says Mukti Pradhan, a civil society leader.
According to a Maoist leader, India had promised Dahal to back up his plan to sack Katawal under condition that he gave up his plan to sign Friendship Treaty with China. Indian support would have been meaningful for the Maoist as India has maintained good relations with rest of other political parties. Before Dahal sacked the Chief of Army Staff Rookmangud Katawal, Indian Ambassador to Nepal, Rakesh Sood had called on Nepal's Prime Minister six times and warned diplomatically that sacking Katawal would be a "blunder".
Dahal rejected the offer and sacked Katawal, which was overturned by President Ram Baran Yadav, who was backed up and pressurized by most of the active political parties. India played a major role -- though indirectly -- in mounting the pressure to the President to challenge Prime Minister's decision, says senior Maoist leader Dr Baburam Bhattarai.
In his resignation address, Dahal had pointed to "foreign intervention" -- and its attempt to create two parallel governments by provoking the President to challenge the decision of an executive prime minister -- as the main reason behind his decision to quit the government. "We would not bow down against any foreign intervention," said Dahal referring to India while resigning.
Besides its miscalculation about Maoist growing ties with China, India was scared of the Maoist strong anti-India stance since the very beginning.
For instance, fighting against "Indian expansionism" and "American Imperialism" were the two powerful agendas of the Maoist armed rebellion waged since mid 1990s. Establishing a "people's republic" was the third major agenda, which was partly met after successfully declaring Nepal a federal republic.
However, the Maoists stopped pronouncing the two of their major goals trying to seek Indian support to their government. But the souring relations of the Maoists with India in recent days have led to re-articulation of their enmity with the southern neighbor. Prime Minister's resignation statement was the first articulation of that kind.
Now India through its envoy Sood and RAW officials like Amitav Kumar Mathur -- who is in Kathmandu for the last two days -- has intensified its diplomatic consultations to form a new government of their interest in Nepal, according to Kantipur daily, a vernacular national daily.
This is a time the Indian political parties like Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have criticized the Indian government and Congress for a "policy failure" due to their outsourcing of "foreign policy to the Left, the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-M), which is a devout support of Nepal's Maoists.
Under this changed condition, Sood is now openly lobbying for a new government under the leadership of other than the Maoists. The regional political parties that emerged in the post-conflict period such as Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (MJF) and Tarai Madhes Lokatantrik Party have been convinced by Sood to support UML to form a new government. It should be noted that MJF which took a U-tern after Indian pressure -- was the best partner of the Maoists in the past nine-month government.
"Success of the Indian side in sabotaging Maoist plan to form the next government on its own leadership would mean also putting a full stop to Maoist plan to sign a new Friendship Treaty with China", explains Yk Raj, a political analyst and an advocate at the Supreme Court.
Given the soured relations between Maoists and India, it is very unlikely that Unified CPN (Maoist), the largest party elected by Constituent Assembly elections, will get any partner to form the next government.