Nepali Times
Dealing with Delhi

Kathmandu's talkerati is all abuzz with Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal's fiery anti-Indian tirade on Tuesday, followed by the sudden retraction of his statement with the explanation that he was just joking.

Everyone knows India is always the elephant in the room in Nepal's domestic politics, but Dahal's public utterance was inflammatory, provocative and irresponsible. The Chairman, as is his wont, has tried to distance himself from his original statements by first saying he was quoted out of context, by blaming the messenger and accusing the media of 'yellow journalism', and then saying he was just being 'sarcastic'.

A few hours after calling Prime Minister Madhav Nepal a 'puppet' and 'robot', however, Dahal met him secretly to strike some kind of a deal. Nepalis have reason to be confused by these contradictory words and deeds.

Some have taken all this as a sign of Maoist desperation, others as the hardcore of the Maoists raising the ante within the party. Whatever the reason, the outcome has been inexplicably positive because it paved the way for the resumption of the House. We lost six months in pointless boycotts and street protests, and there is a lot of catching up to do. But at least the supremacy of parliament has been reinstated.

Populist ultra-nationalism in Nepal has always been the recourse of scoundrels. We saw it during the 1990s when the NC and UML just couldn't resist the temptation of stoking anti-Indian nationalism to garner votes. When the UML won the elections in 1994 and Prime Minister Man Mohan Adhikari went to India on a state visit, he was grilled by the Delhi media about his party's anti-India platform. His reply in Hindi was: "Aap log samajhta hai na, election mein to aisa karna padta hai."

Dahal's speech on Tuesday was not as innocent as all that. His incendiary words risked igniting a re-enactment of the so-called 'Hrithik Roshan riots' of December 2000. That ugly episode should be a warning to the Maoists of how quickly ultra-nationalism can escalate into a pogrom. All the six people who were killed in two days of riots were Nepali.

The dominant theme of the fourth phase of Maoist protests that is supposed to culminate in an indefinite strike next month is to 'expose' India. The Maoist central committee decided on the anti-Indian course, and a significant moderate faction was outvoted. By first declaring parallel ethnic provinces and now stoking anti-Indian feelings, the Maoists are playing with fire on several fronts.

Also to blame is a resurgent right wing within the NC and UML that wants to roll back the peace process and are cornering the Maoists by giving them no face-saving exit. This is also dangerous because it is sure to drive the Maoist party into the hands of an extreme faction that isn't happy about the peace process either.

One can understand Dahal's frustration with sections of the Indian establishment. But he hasn't done much to allay fears that his party is bent on establishing a totalitarian people's republic. If only he had been more of a statesman and less of a party apparatchik and publicly renounced violence and disbanded the YCL, Dahal would have commanded much more respect at home and abroad.

Dahal invokes India - FROM ISSUE #482 (25 DEC 2009 - 31 DEC 2009)

1. jange
" If only he had been more of a statesman and less of a party apparatchik and publicly renounced violence and disbanded the YCL, Dahal would have commanded much more respect at home and abroad." If the Maoists abandon this what have they got left?

2. Arthur
If only Prachanda would talk like Kathmandu's talkerati he would reach the heights of respect at home and abroad that have hithero only been attained by Kathmandu's talkerati.

Revolutionaries do not make revolutions. The revolutionaries are those who know when power is lying in the street and then they can pick it up. -Hannah Arendt

4. Budabaaje
Let's face it. It was the monarchy that dealt best with Delhi. It had managed to keep equi-distance between Delhi and Beijing, it didn't make incendiary statements against it, nor did it grovel to it. It also commanded respectful behavior from Delhi. No political party has achieved this, and I doubt they ever will.

5. Sargam
1) The revolution is the mask of death And the death is the mask of revolution. --Reiner M

6. Sk Lama
I agree and every Nepalese including so called Maobadis should agree with Budabaaje! Democracy with Monarchy is the best for our country!!! Jai Nepal, Jai Naresh!

7. amused
Hard to believe, that some people still chant Jai Naresh. Life without a master is pretty difficult, eh?

8. Sargam
After the end of the French revolution the English poet William Wordsworth wrote: Bliss was it in down to be alive But to be young was heaven.

9. Sargam
Please read: Bliss was it in dawn to be alive But to be young was heaven. William Wordsworth Correction of down into DAWN. Pardon my negligence!

10. Budabaaje
amused, better a Nepali master than a foreign one!'s hard to believe that 2 eyes (and five senses) are still not sufficient for some ppl to see the reality!

11. Sargam
Methinks, before it gets that bad I for one take New Year's resolutions to pre-empt always to get fixing of positive feedback in order to promote progressive ideas for the goodness of everybody around me. I shall try to map out at least a strategy to not do things with malice aforethought. But I shall n't be far off from doing my utmost to save the essential when it is too evident that the whole charade is doomed to failure.

12. amused
Budabaaje, your choice is a false choice. No master is better than a Nepali OR a foreign master. But then Master khojne bani laye pachhi layo layo. Hoina?

13. Budabaaje
amused, call yourself amusing instead -- for your idealism and 'revolutionary' spirit. Such a spirit generally has the effect of numbing the senses, which is why reality (as to who rules Nepal now, for instance) is so hard to see. don't worry. everyone catches a bit of it in college. should wear off with some years...

14. amused
Budabaaje, as they say, it's better not to be than not be a revolutionary. You give too much credit to college. Education these days produces robots taught to cross seven seas to seek new masters, not independent thinkers, sadly.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)