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Delhi view


PRASHANT JHA in NEW DELHI



KIRAN PANDAY

LEFTIES: Maoist MPs in the interim parliament raise their hands to vote for one of the two proposals on Sunday night.
India is frustrated with mainstream politicians, angry at the Maoists, bitter towards UNMIN, and concerned with the deadlock in a peace process that it helped set up in Nepal.

Policy makers here place the blame largely on the Maoists, but also point out that Prime Minister Koirala has been stubbornly resisting a compromise.

New Delhi diplomats see the possibility of the peace process unravelling, and they want an immediate declaration of election dates to avoid further complications.

Shyam Saran's visit last month as envoy of the Indian prime minister was intended to add pressure. But negotiations went into slow motion over Dasain.

This week there is a new sense of urgency. On Wednesday, Indian ambassador Shiv Shankar Mukherjee summoned Pushpa Kamal Dahala and Baburam Bhattarai to the embassy and went to Baluwatar to meet Koirala. "Our impatience was amply conveyed," said one Indian source.

However, the election postponement last month reminded the foreign policy establishment in New Delhi about India's limitations. "No plan works there," conceded one senior official. "The Nepalis promise us one thing and then they do the exact opposite."

After pursuing several avenues to end the deadlock, New Delhi is now said to be comfortable with a \'commitment resolution\' to a republic, subject to endorsement by the elected assembly. With the clock ticking, the NC's latest compromise in Kathmandu on Thursday afternoon was to have a 60:40 ratio for proportional representation and direct voting. This is said to have more takers.

Indian officials said they don't have a Plan B for Nepal, but one of them sent out a stern warning: "If any political force thinks it can get away with derailing the process or attempting a power grab, it is mistaken."

Meanwhile, there is deep distrust here about UNMIN, and officials don't mince words. Not only is UNMIN trying to extend and deepen its involvement in Nepal, they believe, but it is also harming the process. They see a pro-Maoist tilt in the UN's statements. "It was the Maoists who walked out of previous agreements. Why doesn't the UN realise how essential elections are to the success of the peace process?" asked a diplomat.

New Delhi registered a strong protest recently when it found out UN officials had crossed the border to meet madhesi militants. UNMIN's contacts with Nepal's political class down to the grassroots through its political and civil affairs office has also caused concern here. Said one senior official bluntly: "They want to treat Nepal as a UN protectorate, they're going to mess it up."

India is currently said to be re-evaluating its Nepal policy and what to do about UNMIN. India is not a permanent member of the Security Council and that limits its leverage in New York, but it is accepted as the regional power.

Delhi is said to be considering a six month extension to UNMIN, but with a stern message to downsize and limit its role.

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LATEST ISSUE
638
(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)


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