Nepali Times Asian Paints
From The Nepali Press
Comrades in Delhi

Maoist leader Dr Baburam Bhattarai was in New Delhi in mid-May hobnobbing with the Indian leadership and officials. In a statement on 27 May, Maoist Supremo Prachanda said the party had given Comrade Krishna Bahadur Mahara and Comrade Baburam Bhattarai the assignment of assessing the standing of various political parties in India including that of the Indian government and conveying the party's views to them.

According to sources, Bhattarai's team also had the undercover presence of another politburo member Kishan Pyakurel aka Top Bahadur Rayamajhi who leads the Maoist organisation in India. The Maoist plenum last year had transferred Rayamajhi to India from the post of commissar of Lisne Gam Third Brigade. Mahara, who was promoted to the party's standing committee, is in India to take care of the party's foreign affairs. He is considered a Prachanda supporter while Rayamajhi is aligned to Bhattarai. Mahara also had the responsibility of monitoring Bhattarai's and Rayamajhi's activities in India, according to sources. The team led by Bhattarai held talks with three kinds of people: political leaders in India, high-level Indian government officials and Delhi-based representatives of Nepali political parties.

Bhattarai and his team met many leaders-from the newly-elected General Secretary of the CPI-M Prakash Karat to General Secretary of the CPI, AB Bardhan and former Defence Minister George Fernandez. But none of them have formally confirmed these reports. Though Karat admitted to meeting Nepali Maoist leaders in The Times of India, he immediately issued a press statement saying that he had 'met Nepali Maoists in a meeting arranged by Indian security agencies'.

The news of the meeting between the Maoists and the Indians was first broken by the Dubai-based Gulf News a week earlier. Informed sources say their relationship dates back to the 1970s when both were studying at Jawaharlal Nehru University. The Indian intelligence agency, RAW, has had its hands soiled in many political episodes in South Asia right from Sikkim's integration (into India) to the establishment of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka's Tamil rebellion. PK Hormiz Tarakan who was appointed chief of RAW early this year is reputed to have an in-depth knowledge about Nepal's politics and was the RAW station chief in Nepal until June 2001. Tarakan, who was set to retire this month, may have been promoted to make his own priorities felt. Some agree, although Bhattarai flatly denied Indian intelligence officers had a role in his Delhi mission.

Whatever the case, it is clear that after Bhattarai's Delhi tour the Maoists have received unprecedented political recognition from the Indian government. It was India who declared the Maoists as terrorists in 2001 even before the Nepal government. Prachanda has deliberately used Baburam, who is said to have an 'Indian leaning', to garner Indian support. For his part, Bhattarai is trying his luck through his contacts in the Indian left movement.
The principal accomplishment of the Maoists in New Delhi is a possible coalition with agitating political parties in Nepal. There has been coverage of the Maoists and Nepali political parties looking at the possibility of working together for a 'democratic republic'. The visit of the NC President Girija Prasad Koirala this week is being seen in similar perspective.

Bhattarai had held talks with the Delhi representatives of Nepali political parties at various stages. Krishna Prasad Sitaula and Shekhar Koirala of the Nepali Congress, Pradip Giri of NC(D), Rajan Bhattarai of UML, Hridayesh Tripathi and Rajendra Mahato of Sadbhabana Party and Chandradeb Joshi of the United Left Front and so on are in Delhi. Nepali politicians are actively working through the Nepal Democracy and Human Rights Advocacy Centre.

In the words of a Delhi-based Nepali leader, "The discussions with the Maoists have been very positive. Though there has been no immediate formal agreement, some common agenda might be reached to fight for a democratic republic." If this is so, then elections to a constituent assembly could be a point of convergence." Translation Service

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)