FELLOW JNUites: PM Baburam Bhattarai shakes hands with New Indian envoy to Nepal Jayant Prasad after his swearing in by the president on Sunday
NEW DELHI -- At the Poorvanchal Hostel in Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in the late-1970s, Baburam Bhattarai was a quiet student, working on his PhD. Older JNU-ites remember Poorvanchal as being a far-flung residence on the enormous campus, built to people the place, like an outpost of sorts. It soon coloured itself red, with the Students's Federation of India, the student wing of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), staking claim.
Remember this was the post-Emergency period in India's history, when the Janata Party was slowly destroying the dream, before Indira Gandhi made her comeback in 1980. All this much, much before Manmohan Singh tempted India's radical elite into forgetting that a certain revolution, both with or without the barrel of the gun, could transform India into a more egalitarian country, besides cushioning its own nest.
For the most part, Poorvanchal's radicals have abandoned the dream. Which is why Baburam Bhattarai must be complimented for staying with it, as must Sitaram Yechury and top CPM leader, Prakash Karat. What did it mean for these educated, intelligent men and women to refuse the attractions of a multi-national corporation or even a UN-style job, we will never know.
So here's yet another whimsical twist in the sub-continent's history: Bhattarai has become Nepal's fifth prime minister in four years and the first to send him greeting was a former teacher, Manmohan Singh. A free market reformer sends a dyed-in-red revolutionary warmest greetings, and a greater irony considering how Singh leads a government that is taking a hard line on India's own Maoists.
But even in Nepal, the enthusiasm for revolution has waned. Kathmandu, in fact, will always be one up on Delhi because it dared to push for a non-violent people's movement in 2006. Delhi can only rescue itself by hoping history will remember the consequential role it played in November 2005 when it brokered the 12-point agreement between the Maoists and an alliance of seven democratic parties, thereby allowing comrades like Bhattarai to come above ground and go for a ceasefire.
But what of the future? Bhattarai became prime minister the same week as another JNU alumni, Jayant Prasad, arrived in Kathmandu to be India's new ambassador to Nepal. He feels the pulse, not only because his father, Bimal Prasad, was India's first ambassador to Nepal after a previous people's movement of 1990. Back in Delhi, the joint secretary dealing with Nepal affairs at the External Affairs Ministry, always a crucial man in the way the Indian system functions, is Akhilesh Mishra. He also knows Nepal well because he served in Kathmandu in the late 1990s, during what is sometimes called the "golden period" under I K Gujral's prime ministership.
Meanwhile, check out Bhattarai's interview to some Indian journalists in late May, to give us a glimpse of what he thinks about the India-Nepal relationship. Asked by the Business Standard where things went wrong in India-Nepal relations, Bhattarai replied: "The problem lies with both of us Öwe were too ambitious, we thought we could do things on our own, while India underestimated our strength."
There's another gem that could have been written by the Indian prime minister, considering it echoes a favourite thought about how we can choose our friends and enemies, but not our neighbours. Asked what he thought of the Indian establishment, Bhattarai answered: "We can't change our neighbour. We have to depend on India, both economically and geographically. There is now some tacit understanding within our party in this regard."
Prophetic words, or simply lip-syncing in front of Indian journalists, hoping they are naÔve enough to believe him? I would bet on the former. Bhattarai knows that too much water has flowed down the Koshi and that in many ways, his prime ministership constitutes the last chance to improve living conditions at home. After all, isn't that the promise on which the Maoists came to power?
He also knows that he can't do this without India's help, especially since India is the roaring economic engine in the neighbourhood (Beijing is too far). Meanwhile, Jayant Prasad will likely keep his head down and volunteer India's help in doing whatever Nepal wants: whether in writing the constitution, in the integration of Maoist fighters into the Nepal army, in rehabilitating those who cannot be integrated, helping build multi-purpose projects on Nepal's many rivers.
It's a special relationship, and this is a fragile moment. Delhi seems to understand that, and will work with both the Maoists as well as a "constructive" NC-UML opposition in Nepal. The feeling here is that it is up to Nepalis to write Nepal's destiny, and for the moment Baburam Bhattarai seems very much a part of it.
You forgot to mention his handler at RAW.
02 SEPT 2011 | 12:33 PM NST
From JNU to Kathmandu- via murder, loot and extortion.
02 SEPT 2011 | 7:28 PM NST
3. jange "Which is why Baburam Bhattarai must be complimented for staying with it, as must Sitaram Yechury and top CPM leader, Prakash Karat. What did it mean for these educated, intelligent men and women to refuse the attractions of a multi-national corporation or even a UN-style job, we will never know."
SO, the NT compliments Bhattarai for staying with murder, loot and extortion? Pathetic. You will never learn.
Of course we know what would have happened if Bhattarai and Co. did not stick with murder, loot and extortion. !5,000 unnecessary killings for a start.
03 SEPT 2011 | 1:05 PM NST
@Jange. You have chose your name with proper word. You are exactly the the Jange of regressive and corrupted looters, who looted this country for years.
03 SEPT 2011 | 6:41 PM NST
What happened to all "the usual commentators"?
It is reassuring that jange is still able to chant his mantra about "murder, loot and extortion". But it seems as though it comes through a time warp when combined with claims that Bhattarai is a RAW agent.
Surely there should be a more impressive chorus than just somebody who doesn't care?
I was looking forward to a few pages of rabid hysteria.
03 SEPT 2011 | 8:09 PM NST
6. jange 6. Arthur What happened to all "the usual commentators"?
I was looking forward to a few pages of rabid hysteria.
Not surprised that you would.
There isn't much left to say about Maoists, except- "murderers, looters and extortionists"
03 SEPT 2011 | 9:08 PM NST
7. Pratit Gurung
See guys hiding behind your computer,bitching and cursing the politicians or each other doesn't help. Now is the time to build our country and there is nobody as suitable as Dr Baburam Bhatarai who is educated and fit from every angle as a leader....who can steer the nation towards a better Nepal sovereign, peaceful and economically prosperous. Building a nation involves starting from ourselves, realizing our past mistakes and not repeating it again. Evil grows when good people do nothing! So, if you think you don't like the situation.Start from self rather than blaming others (or you're just a coward bitch who has nothing else to do but blame others!) You see under the King's direct rule when he had dissolved parliament,democracy and deployed the Army and police towards his own people and suppressing their¬† voices, burning,raping and looting people in rural areas after killing his own brother King Birendra and family.The people under the leadership of the Maoist party had no other option but to raise arms against the injustice by Gyanendra. Now, the issue of a new Constitution without Monarchy,federalism acknowledging that only Kathmandu is not whole Nepal and religiously neutral Nepalese society was raised by the Maoists. So, they are the only ones who deserve to steer the Nation at this point who were elected as the largest party by the people of Nepal. We have tremendous potential as a Nation geographically blessed between two of the largest and fastest developing Nations India and China. As a good sovereign neighbor we must treat both Nations equally without loosing our dignity. A stable Nepal is good for the whole region! Good for Asia as a whole! Lets work towards building that trust.
03 SEPT 2011 | 11:24 PM NST
8. Man Tamang
For a person like me, it does not matter who becomes the PM, be it from NC, UML, Maoists or from any other fringe parties. They will appoint their own lot to look after their interest only. My lot will continue to be neglected and marginalised until a time comes when we are compelled to¬†choose the same path that Prachanda and Baburam took¬†about¬†a decade and a half ago.¬†No efforts have been made by successive governments to integrate our lot into the mainstream. We lost so many lives and time in the Maoists bloody revolution and now it looks like all was for their own lot only. Not for us.
03 SEPT 2011 | 3:21 AM NST
Current political climate will not allow the writing of a new Constitution no matter how many extensions we have. We are playing musical chairs. Music needs to stop. It is time to dissolve the CA & have a Presidential rule. We need a panel of experts to write the Constitution, not 601 fools. Put it to referendum directly to the Nepali people. 27 million Nepalis will do it in one day. Elect only a 150 member Parliament afterwards. Then, move on with people's business.
04 SEPT 2011 | 5:23 AM NST
8. Pratit Gurung
..... and there is nobody as suitable as Dr Baburam Bhatarai who is educated and fit from every angle as a leader...
If he was truly educated and fit he wouldn't have gone around murdering, looting and extorting.
04 SEPT 2011 | 12:00 PM NST
11. jange 12. who cares
The NT fell for it- hook, line and sinker and are now desperately trying to wriggle out of it with some semblance of dignity. Harldly surprising that ordinary mortals are so easily taken in.
Agragami, New Nepal, etc. etc. Scratch a bit and all it means is, "Put me in charge and all will be OK".
04 SEPT 2011 | 4:34 PM NST
12. K. K. Sharma
Indians seem to be happy. Some articles from India say it is India that made the BRB government with Madhesi parties now in position to call the shots.
If India is happy, all the Nepali intellectuals who had followed the directions from India, since 1989/90, should also be happy now.
Jaya Bharata Bhagya Bithata.
04 SEPT 2011 | 5:41 PM NST
13. who cares i did not steal, all i did was plan, carry the bag, look out for police. i am not a thief. ¬†
is not it amazing, maoist murdered 16k, looted 10s of thousands, thrashed threatened 100s of thousands. and bhatterai was part of that gang, he was a planner, he enjoyed loot wealth, he attack opposition in his area- gorkha too... .... ¬†.. ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† . ... ¬†and still there are many semi educated fools who consider him to be different from his gang.
not to forget that he has a view that power comes from the barrel of a gun, convert infrastructure into ashes and built a castle with that ashes.¬†
the¬†propaganda¬†going on in medias regarding him being democrat, pro peace, is this just a propaganda created by media or it's really what many nepalese think?
04 SEPT 2011 | 9:17 PM NST
14. who cares
maoist were involved in all kinds of crime. but media has been¬†portraying puspa's face as the face of those crime where as another sardar, bhatterai¬†is being shown as a good guy who believes in democracy, non¬†violence. ¬†
is not it comical?
bhatterai's actions, views- attack in gorkha, involvement in maoist, planner in maoist, his views in support of¬†violence, radical views etc proves that bhatterai is evil, undemocratic. and still puspa is the bad one and bhatterai is the good one. why?
mind the following points:
* lie is important for maoist to come this far but we know that it works for shorter term only.
* violence is necessary to reach this far, but it will destroy your image.
* we know bhatterai planned all these but many do not¬†blame¬†him.
so in conclusion, could it be possible that its bhatterai who is the master and puspa is just his poppet or bhatterai hypnotized puspa?
look at the outcome (at present), bhatterai turned out to be a winner- he got popularity, power, image where as puspa is seen as the devil.¬†
if you remember the past, present you can tell that bhatteri has always said or acted what public wants to see, hear-¬†
* he was a hard core commie and today he has become democrat cause democracy sells.¬†
* he involved in violence to get into power and today he is acting as if he is ¬†supporting peace just to make public happy.
* he used to tell public that they would make nepal switzerland if they come into power (and people believed in them), today people know that it is not possible and so he has begun to spread the propaganda that he is going to take nepal into medium economy if he gets to stay in power for 10 year.¬†
is not visionary, brilliant¬†individual¬†suppose to know the right path and walk thought it even though the whole world is against him?
no doubt that this fellow is a¬†chameleon.¬†
04 SEPT 2011 | 10:20 PM NST
ok article... nothing new, we haven't heard before..
Baburam's turn for PM, interesting event despite not getting a convincing 2/3rd majority. However is still something which Prachanda for along while would not have accepted, say's alot about how things are unfolding. New frictions seen publically within the Maoist party regarding the handing over the keys to the AISC, shows how the once revolutionaries are now slowly preparing to give up their arms and accepting what the civilian democratic parties have always said was a must before writing a new constitution.
Challenges for Baburam,
1. Taming, the extreme militants within the Maoist camp (seems to be doing this well, most likely due to the fact he has more support outside of his party than within and also the frustration of the PLA rotting away in the camps due to lack of progress.)
2. Agrees with all of the Madhesi parties 4 point deal, which includes stopping any criminal investigations into their party members. This will be a big stumbling block with human rights organisations, including Amnesty International, as they won't stay quiet and will question the morality further of the Maoist Leader.
3. Conclusion of the peace process, probably has the best chance than any other leader from any of the parties. He is more willing to listen to other parties, and by his recent actions to hand over the keys of the PLA to the AISC has shown more eagerness than his predecesor Prachanda, to disarm the PLA and integrate into society or the security forces.
4. Needs to watch his back. His long time Foe/best friend Prachanda, is a clever devious political fox who will be secretly banking on Baburam's failure inorder for himself to resurface again. Baburam should never underestimate Prachanda, who has cleverly lead the Maoists despite his lack of credentials compared to his counterparts, very Stalinish but also a bit of clown with the habit of opening his mouth which Baburam can use against him if things get to that stage.
Interesting times ahead, the Maoists will eventually civilianize as they know deep down their is no return to the jungle, they have the taste of Kathmandu and Power. Their extreme voice in their party will quieten to the dislikes of all so called extreme communists and will eventually be a party pretty much resembling the CPN-UML of the early 1990's.
04 SEPT 2011 | 11:00 PM NST
With generational shift from¬†Banaras to JNU let's hope that there will also occur a fundamental shift in the mindset of the key players.¬† The current "sick" and "moribund" relationship between Nepal and India needs to be thoroughly reviewed, redefined and put in a new historic perspective. For example, as a gesture of doing businees in new ways, India can give Nepal¬†an uninterrupted free access to sea ports¬†in Bangladesh;¬†similarly, ¬†Nepal can invite Indian side¬†to invest heavily in a couple of mega¬†hydropower plants. This will be the first trust-building measure.¬†There is a great opportunity for both sides to give a new stratgic direction in Indo-Nepal relationsip specailly with¬†Dr. BRB's long-standing link with the "nerve-center" of India. Despite all his connections, if BRB fails to protect Nepal's national interests, his premiership will be no better than that of the Koirala brothers. Nepali leaders need to free themselves up from their 'slave' mentality and India should free herself from hegemonic attitude. That will be the palce where one can start a healthy and normal relation between the two neighbors.
04 SEPT 2011 | 11:19 PM NST
So Baburame is another jackal with a 'Made in India' stamp on his belly! Talking about JNU as if it's Berkeley is laughable. If Maoist tactics and the low-level language that this 'Doctor' speaks were any clues, that Indian teaching and subsequent harboring of Maoist terrorists in India should serve as a brilliant example on why India will always remain the cancer it is to Nepal's health.
What is 'Chalo Dilli' and how does this title fit in Nepali times that runs in English? Is NT editorial board getting too many dinner invitations from the diplomatic thugs from Lainchaur, or are Dixits reinventing their ancestral roots in India?¬†
06 SEPT 2011 | 5:49 PM NST
Too many counter allegation and delegation - that's what is the dirty politics and its associated journalist/journalism - ask yourself, by putting your hand in heart - either you in left wing or right wing, for sure, and very few (may be 1 or 2) are neutral, whose voice is always dominated, so far - this is the story for our country Nepal and most of the third world country,
Okay, can we survive with or without our big brothers - north as well as south block? Both are emerging powers and leading to world economy - definitely one will be number one and other will be number two for long period of coming time, for sure! And we do have supporting both block of citizen in our country in all sector no doubt, media is number one! Should we put allegation and delegation on each other doing nothing for the country (I am referring to all above comments) or take constructive measure such as very very strong law and order (do not have to go far see BIHAR), zero tolerance to corruption, better opportunity with secure and guaranteed investment, and smart utilization of our natural resources which may cost trillions of dollars!. If these smart constructive measures were strictly taken in this appropriate time, I am pretty sure we and our country can see not lower double digit growth but higher double digit growth. You will see the flux of tourist from both blocks on our street. Beside whatever we say, tourism is our main industry. For the ¬†¬†present scenario how many years country can sustain on remittance? ¬†Everything is falling apart but still there is hope and glimpse of rays of light that hope might be this time Baburam! So it's not From JNU to Kathmandu it's From small unknown Village to JNU to Kathmandu and I hope will reach to Great Wall making a long bridge for everyone that's what is our future!
09 SEPT 2011 | 10:55 AM NST
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