Leaders of the CPN-M have made fools of themselves by prohibiting the entry of cars with Indian number plates and Hindi films that 'insult' Nepal. There is no doubt that Nepal's sovereignty is under serious threat and our nationalism is facing a crisis. Events in the past year have shown how foreign intervention is on the rise and the head of the caretaker government even admitted publicly that 'the keys lie elsewhere'. But at a time when the peace process has taken a positive turn and when all parties should be looking to resolve the deadlock together, coming out on the streets to protest against neighbours in the name of protecting nationalism is ill-conceived.
This is not to say that political parties remain silent when nationalism is really in crisis. However, they must find better ways to express their concerns about bilateral and domestic issues, while also maintaining cordial diplomatic relations. They must not resort to populist slogans when dealing with the complexities of contemporary geopolitics.
All Nepal-India related issues need to be handled delicately and with great foresight because the countries have close socio-economic-political ties and our citizens interact with each other through the open border. Campaigns to stop Indian vehicles or films affect relations right down to the local level. No one can deny the legal protection offered by both states to each others' vehicles or the pragmatism that demands their entry. Besides, India is Nepal's only supplier of petroleum, and many of our daily necessities also come from across the border. Nepalis will only suffer if India decides to cut supplies.
Moroever, there are other crucial issues between the two countries that need attention and vehicle entry or films don't fall in this category. Vehicles and movies are already covered by the 1950 Peace and Friendship Treaty. A better move would be to call for the treaty to be revised.
During the 'sideline' talks held between Minister of Foreign Affairs Narayan Kaji Shrestha and his Indian counterpart SM Krishna at New York, Krishna made his country's displeasure clear. Shrestha ensured that vehicles would be granted safe entry into Nepal and no Indian citizens or vehicles would be harmed. The Nepal government must start practicing what it has promised to India.
The NC-UML were quick to point out that their anti-government protest is different from the CPN-M's 'nationalism campaign' and refused to support the program. The opposition should not influence bilateral issues from the street, and it has made the right decision to distance itself.
The way CPN-M is trying to protect nationalism is simply wrong. Diplomatic issues must be solved diplomatically, and the correct channel for that is through the government. Targeting vehicles and films will take us nowhere and such foolish ultra-nationalism will only stifle the growth of progressive nationalism.