Nepali Times
Guest Column
The more things change


Nepal's Maoist party no longer see India as the 'reactionary power' they railed against for some years, and whose malign influence they sought to remedy in their initial 40-point agreement.

Kathmandu's elite is happy with the change of heart. Most Nepalis do not believe a prime minister can annoy India and still remain in power, and political 'realists' believe the change was inevitable. The integration of the CPN (Maoist) into the 'mainstream' is almost complete.

Pushpa Kamal Dahal has thanked the Indian government for allowing them and SPA representatives to meet on Indian soil. He's also said that without India's tacit consent the12-point understanding of November 2005 would not have been possible. The Comrade says India represented a threat to the Nepali people when the government in New Delhi was supporting the monarchy and what was then called the Royal Nepal Army against the 'People's War'. Now that India seems to have accepted his party's claim to political power it no longer represent a threat to the people of Nepal.

For decades, the Indian ruling elite supported the Nepali monarchy, which behaved in a feudal, autocratic manner. The monarchy perpetrated a system of government based on privileges and denial, and harsh suppression of dissent. Yet India, the largest democracy in the world, supported it. New Delhi continues to support the autocratic king of Bhutan and is friendly with Myanmar's military dictators. The Indian ruling elite supports 'official' killers and abusers of human rights, and frowns upon 'non-official' or 'non-state' armed struggle.

The CPN (M) no longer espouses Marx's dictum that 'force is the midwife of every old society pregnant with a new one'. Instead, the Maoists appear to have accepted the theory of 'peaceful' transition to a 'new social order' through 'competitive democracy'. In making this switch, they have become acceptable to India.

The CPN (M) say it expects India will support a republican Nepal, should the constituent assembly decide on it. Let's put realpolitik aside, and look ahead. The class character of India's ruling elite cannot have changed overnight. New Delhi supported the monarchy and the 'twin pillar' theory during the 13 years of multiparty democracy in the name of the 'Nepali people'. Now New Delhi supports the SPA-Maoist government in the name of supporting the Nepali people's rights.

New Delhi's mantra is strange when it shows so little regard for its own vast masses of poor, dalits, adivasis, and religious minorities. New Delhi boasts of being the world's largest democracy and an emerging economic power but, bowing to the dictates of the WTO, the World Bank and the IMF, it introduces agricultural policy reforms that drive thousands of farmers to suicide, strips labour of rights, and virtually gives away vast tracts of farmland and hundreds of villages for 'Special Economic Zones' where Indian citizens will have restricted entry.

If India does in fact accept the Maoist party's ideology, it could be faced with more than just a logical disconnect in having a socialist society next door.

The Comrade has also said that the real threat to socialism is the United States. He warns that the neo-conservative-ruled US might create a Nicaraguan Contra-type force in Nepal with the remnants of the royalists and renegade elements of the RNA to overthrow the new government and create political chaos.

It seems unlikely that India, as it follows the neo-imperialist path of the US and strives to become a strategic partner, would support its socialist regime in its backyard. And if the US did decide to support armed gangs in Nepal, what would New Delhi do?

Tapan Bose is Secretary General of the South Asia Forum for Human Rights.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)