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Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017

Only in Nepal perhaps does the leader of the fourth-largest party in parliament who was just installed as Deputy Prime Minister sit on the asphalt in protest. Photographs this week show Kamal Thapa with a befuddled Nepal Army bodyguard behind him confronting riot police who later fired tear gas and baton charged supporters of his RPP.

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Thapa was there to challenge the Election Commission refusing to accept his party’s manifesto that calls for the restoration of a Hindu monarchy in Nepal. It was no coincidence that the RPP protest this week came right after the dramatic power consolidation of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP in state elections last week, and the installation of a saffron chief minister in Uttar Pradesh. It just went to prove that there must be some truth to the apocryphal adage that when it rains in New Delhi a politician in Kathmandu unfurls an umbrella.

After the BJP came to power in 2014, there has been an epic struggle between Modi’s advisers in the PMO and the Indian foreign policy establishment for policy and control. Some of that is also a result of strained relations within the BJP, particularly between Modi and the Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj. This tension has sowed some confusion about Indian policy on Nepal for the past three years.

Indian visitors in Kathmandu have sent conflicting signals while meeting Nepali leaders on issues like Nepal’s secular, federal and republican constitution. The external affairs bureaucracy in India with its intelligence agencies have been the architects since November 2005 of Nepal’s peace process that is now culminating with the constitution. The weakening of the secular Congress-Left could mean that the ascendant Hindu-Right shakti peeth in New Delhi will try to reboot its policy on Nepal.

The new Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is the high priest of the patron deity of Nepal’s former royal family in Gorakhpur. He has been disparaging about Nepal’s secular constitution, and has openly spoken about restoring the Hindu monarchy. Other BJP advisers have also made no secret of their antipathy to a secular and republican Nepal.

Political infighting in Nepal, the intractable confusion over amendments to the constitution, and some would say even the five-month blockade of Nepal in 2015 were a manifestation of secular leftists and Hindu revivalists working at cross-purposes in New Delhi’s corridors of power. Kamal Thapa and the Khum Bahadur Khadka faction of the Nepali Congress appear to be just foot soldiers in this proxy war.

Nepal’s cultural, linguistic, religious and ethnic diversity is Nepal’s national identity. How Nepalis want to define themselves should not change just because there is a new power balance in New Delhi.

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2 Responses to “SOUTHERLY WIND”

  1. AJ Joshi on Says:

    An article that all Nepalese must read. The only democracy in this age is a secular democracy. Trying to force caste ism (another name for Hinduism) down people’s throat will end up in disaster. Look at India, its shining jewel is its secular democracy despite having about a billion Hindus.

  2. anup on Says:

    I have high regard for Kunda, but in this instance I want to ask him few honest questions:
    A) When Nepal was made secular from Hindu rastra was there any kind of consultation or referendum from the general public apart from self proclaimed expert?
    B) Where were the secularist like you commenting when there was rampant convertion by missinories recently, never seen in Nepal’s history?

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