Saturday, December 4, 2010

SD Muni's interview on India-Nepal relations

From Linky

Q: It is believed that one of the reasons for the current stalemate in Nepal is the widening trust deficit between India and Nepal. The Indian establishment apparently believes that the Maoists did not live up to the promises that they had made. And the Maoists have their issues with India. What is your take?

A: Until now we were concentrating on four elements of Nepali politics; I would say they are five elements. The fifth element is the international community led by India. The international community had helped the parties reach an agreement. But on the question of the army, they thought they cannot go together. Let us accept that UNMIN could not have come to Nepal, if India and the US had not agreed to it. Everybody accepted that there are two armies, but this is no longer acceptable. India which earlier stood for consensus has now gone for polarisation. And as you correctly pointed out, Nepali Maoists are no longer acceptable to India on the terms that they have defined. And Nepali Maoists have also not fulfilled all of their promises. My analysis is that they had no idea about managing democratic politics. Many of them still don’t know how to function in the Parliament.

Q: Some among the Maoists have been saying that India is their “principal enemy”?

A: The Maoists have been charging India. And India to an extent is responsible for this (current political impasse). But the Maoists say that India is entirely responsible. I don’t agree to that. No one factor is responsible for the mess today. All five elements are responsible. So, unless there is agreement on a peaceful and progressive Nepal, they cannot proceed ahead.

Q: What then, according to you are the major drawbacks of India’s policy towards Nepal?

A: India has gone away from consensus. That is the main fault. In some respects India has also gone away from this democratic principle that the largest party should lead the government. As I have said, since the goal posts have changed, nobody is talking about democratisation of Nepal Army. Even Nepali Congress has maintained silence on this. I think as the major player among the international community, it is important that India recommits itself to consensus. For instance earlier some parties were not committed to a republic. But all of them were brought together on the same platform. This is what I expect the international community to do. And this is something I expect from all the political parties.

Q: Do you think that India would prefer to continue with the deadlock or will it come up with a new strategy?

A: Why bring India into this? India can do nothing if all the parties are united. Let me give you a concrete example. If you can, please recall two dates: April 21, 2006 and April 24, 2006. The April 21 proclamation of the king was accepted by India and the international community. And they wanted every political party to accept it. The consensus of Nepali political forces did not accept it. What happened? The proclamation was revised. India had to explain its position. Why don’t you go back to that? The real issue is that of differences among Nepali actors.

Q: What are India’s interests in Nepal?

A: India has several interests in Nepal. But they are primarily security and economic. Whether you like it or not, we have this experience of Indian planes being hijacked from here. Fake currencies are coming from here. Terrorists are crossing (into India). Whether you like it or not, these are India’s concerns. And they would like to see these addressed.

Q: Pushpa Kamal Dahal, after a recent visit to China, stated that there has to be a tripartite strategic agreement between Nepal, India and China in order to secure the interests of all three. As an analyst on South Asia, how do you view this?

A: In the same statement, he has said that the Chinese have asked him to maintain friendly relations with India. So let Prachanda follow what the Chinese have said. I would like to link this with India’s foreign policy. Anti-Indian nationalism will not let your development grow. Anti-Indian nationalism was whipped up by the monarch in last 60 years. What did you achieve? Even if the Maoists peg their entire power strategy on anti-Indian nationalism, it will not take them very far because they have to deliver development to their constituencies. And they cannot deliver development to their constituencies if they don’t have respectable and harmonious relation with India. But there is a dual characteristic being shown by the Maoists. Some say India is their principal enemy while others say we can’t do without India. This is the reflection of the dilemma in the Maoist party.

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