A turning point in Nepal

Manmohan Singh with Prachanda, circa 2008

Prashant Jha interviews the Nepali Maoist leader Prachanda:

All of us reviewed the situation. I presented a document in my party last April stating that the 12-point agreement must be the basis, and we must conclude the peace and the constitution process. India then changed the way it viewed Maoists, and realised it must help the process succeed. It was a realisation that we must revert to the environment of trust that existed during the 12-point pact.

Would it be right to say that Nepal’s peace process and the constitution would not have been possible without Indian support?

Definitely. Saying that the 12-point understanding was signed in Delhi means that there was India’s active support — otherwise it was not possible. CA elections would not have been possible. There could have been problems with the declaration of a republic. Now also, to take peace and the constitution to a logical conclusion, without Indian support, it will be very complex and difficult. [Full interview]

Kanak Mani Dixit critiques such a conclusion of the peace process:

But why did India become proactive? The answer can only be presented in supposition, and perhaps New Delhi’s right hand did not know what the left was up to. The Bhattarai coalition could have been pushed to force a break-up of the UCPN (Maoist) party. Someone may have believed that nothing but a Maoist-led government could deliver disbandment of the cantonments. In extremis, a few apparatchiks may have wanted to experiment with a subservient Maoist-run state, to see if that would be better for India than a democratic neighbor.

India’s domestic requirements may have been the reason to corral the Madhesbadi parties and elevate the Maoists, despite the latter’s depredations on the people. However, the act of showcasing the gentrified Nepal Maoists before the rampaging Naxals does not seem to be working. For whatever reason, New Delhi was willing to use its considerable clout to have Bhattarai end the peace process, whereas it could have done us the favour during the two previous governments. And how does one square the circle, India helping to establish a Maoist regime in Nepal while treating rebels of the same pedigree as terrorists on its own soil? [Full article]

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