The curtain is slowly drawing up to reveal India's role in the ousting of Sher Bahadur Deuba from the position of prime minister. The inside story reveals how our southern neighbour instigated the king against Deuba and allowed the Maoists to use its territory to transport arms and ammunition.
Last September, Deuba was all set to sign a treaty against landmines in a meeting at Canada. Just before he left, he decided to replace the Royal Nepali Army's SLR rifles with standard NATO issues. During his first tenure of premiership eight years ago, Deuba had imported 3,000 pieces of M16 NATO standard commando rifles. Some MPs close to South Block raised concerns. For one thing, India was the RNA's main supplier of SLR rifles in the past, benefiting from a side trade in Indian bullets too. Deuba's decision meant a loss for the Indian munition suppliers, which began the Indian game of dislodging Deuba.
In the meantime, amidst mounting Maoist destruction of public infrastructure, many foreign governments sent aid to the RNA. China donated communication equipment, the UK sent helicopters and the US provided tactical equipment. Not to be outdone, India sent two Chetak helicopters and 90 trucks.
What India actually had in mind was to weaken the RNA through Maoist attacks, and force the king's hand into ousting Deuba. The government entered into a five-year military agreement with the US and plans were afoot to form a special commando team within the army. When India came to know that the US was planning to train Nepali would-be commandos, it made a deal with the king. He would remove Deuba and New Delhi would give him a Maoist ceasefire. It worked and Sher Bahadur Deuba found himself out of office.