On Intrusive Rumbles from South

Published On: June 4, 2021 08:53 AM NPT By: Bikash Sangraula  | @SangraulaBikash

Former Indian envoys must refrain from giving their said “assets” undeserved credit for what are wholly made-in-Nepal political developments. Suggestions by one of them that India is making sure it isn’t leaving “fingerprints” behind is a bluff unbecoming of any former ambassador, anywhere. 

As Nepal battles the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic that has spawned new strains including a particularly lethal double mutant strain that originated in India and spilled over to Nepal, some former Indian envoys to Nepal have demonstrated via their various write-ups that they have little, if any, interest in helping ameliorate the unfolding humanitarian crisis in Nepal.

Instead of channeling their diplomatic capital, if they have any left, to help lobby for a joint Nepal-India resistance against the pandemic that has taught us that neither of us can win this battle or similar battles in the future alone, they are advocating, in words chosen carefully but not carefully enough, New Delhi’s micro-management of what is a wholly Nepal-made political disaster.  

While it would be unwise to read too much into the personal opinions of some former ambassadors, a sober reminder of plain facts is warranted. 

The authors of these write-ups seem to have unveiled an inexplicable appetite for intervening in Nepal when it hurts most. First, it was in the form of the inhuman Indian blockade from late September 2015 to early February 2016.

This happened barely months after Nepal was struck by devastating twin quakes and was in need of help, not a blockade!

Backstabbing a friend when weak is not seen as a virtue in Nepal. It doesn’t appear to be seen as a virtue anywhere in India either. 

While Nepalis still await an unequivocal apology from India for the blockade, the recent noises from the south seem to be asking India to act again in a similarly hurtful manner at a time when we are weak again and are struggling against another disaster – a pandemic. 

It is noteworthy that all these former envoys were supportive of the blockade. That India lost considerable goodwill in Nepal during the blockade was New Delhi’s own doing. Those in Nepal and India who openly supported such inhumanity inflicted on a friendly and wounded neighbor are also to blame.

It is ridiculous to fret about ‘growing’ Chinese influence in Nepal after forcing Nepal, in the course of the blockade, to look north. Any nation caught up in a similar situation would do exactly what the K P Oli government of that time did. By and large, the write-ups by former Indian envoys to Nepal appear to have resulted not from remorse for the goodwill lost in Nepal in that past Indian ‘micro-management’ misadventure, but from Sinophobia. Inherent in this is their acknowledgement that India has indeed lost a lot of goodwill in Nepal.

But the tenet through which New Delhi’s former envoys have viewed Nepal – that Nepal has somehow become a Chinese playground and that India should step in and reassert itself - is totally unfounded.

That NCP was formed in 2018 was, like its ongoing disintegration, a wholly made-in-Nepal political event. Like the ongoing unfortunate disputes at our apex court over the formation of a constitutional bench, the dissolution of parliament in December, its subsequent reinstatement by court, its second dissolution, NCP’s ongoing disintegration, disputes over constitutional provisions on government formation, etcetera are all made-in-Nepal events.

It is true that the Chinese saw a potential long-term ally in NCP after it was formed. Beijing has always been comfortable with a stable Nepal, if only because it doesn’t want to expend too much diplomatic capital in engaging with divided, tiny political forces in Nepal that keep making and breaking coalitions. Beijing did put some effort in trying to save NCP from disintegrating. But failed! This should offer our Indian friends some relief from their China-related paranoia vis-à-vis Nepal.

Also, trying to suggest an Indian hand in NCP’s disintegration is a ridiculous attempt at taking undeserved credit.

NCP collapsed because the unreconstructed Maoist Pushpa Kamal Dahal, in coordination with his UML ally Madhav Kumar Nepal, attempted to capture that party. This duo is responsible for what has unfolded politically in Nepal in the past six months.

In the recent past, Dahal argued in a television interview on the need to install in Kathmandu a government that is “comfortable” to our neighbors. That direct call for intervention was met in Nepal with as much indignation as it deserved.

At least on this matter, Dahal appears to be on the same page with his former Maoist associate Dr Baburam Bhattarai who has peddled the misleading narrative that the Mahanta Thakur-Rajendra Mahato faction of Janata Samajbadi Party, Bhattarai’s rivals, became supportive of Prime Minister Oli at the behest of India.

In a video interview carried recently by The Print, Bhattarai appeared to appeal to his fellow interviewee and former Indian ambassador to Nepal Rakesh Sood to urge New Delhi to intervene in a different way, meaning in the way that benefits Bhattarai whose political stars have steadily faded since his prime ministerial days. In asking for a different kind of intervention, Bhattarai aided some conspiracy theorists in Nepal who are working hard to establish similar or even darker narratives.

Ground realities are different. Having been the fall guys for the Indian blockade for nothing, the Thakur-Mahato group of Janata Samajbadi Party has returned home and has gotten their important demands met. They have had enough of becoming pawns to and shouldering the blames for Indian micromanagement is Nepal. This is a welcome development for Nepal’s polity, and it is our internal matter.

Suggesting that the Thakur-Mahato factions’ gains could merely be a “reversible tactical gain” will not push Nepal into another Madhes-Pahad divide. It is a futile exercise. The number of fall guys in Nepal has fallen dramatically!   

Former Indian envoys must refrain from giving their said “assets” undeserved credit for what are wholly made-in-Nepal political developments. Suggestions by one of them that India is making sure it isn’t leaving “fingerprints” behind is a bluff unbecoming of any former ambassador, anywhere.

Such bluffs and feeble arguments by the former Indian envoys get amplified by a section of the media in Kathmandu. This is a trend of concern. 

Our Supreme Court will resolve the current deadlock. We have a Constitution that took us seven years to write. We have taken note of India’s position on our Constitution promulgation. The court’s decision and our Constitution’s provisions will guide us ahead.

Friends in India have an opportunity to apologize to us for the blockade by joining hands with us in a Nepal-India resistance against the pandemic, with vaccines as our common arsenal. That is where former Indian envoys’ opinions can be helpful.

Friendships lost can be won back.


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