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Maoists Major Threat:INDIA’S NEPAL POLICY X-RAYED,by T.D. Jagadesan,25 May 2006 Print E-mail


New Delhi, 25 May 2006

Maoists Major Threat


By T.D. Jagadesan

The recent political developments in Nepal and New Delhi’s reaction to them call for a comprehensive review of India’s Nepal policy.  India’s relations with the countries in its immediate neighbourhood have always been given the highest priority by the Government, on par with its relations with major powers like the United States, Russia, China etc. They had also always received the special attention of the Prime Minister. 

Some of India’s neighbours have been quick in accusing India of “big brother attitude” whenever they differed with any action taken by India.  Nepal suffered from this complex more than any other in the neighbourhood.  Being a land-locked country, Nepal has to deal with India on a wide range of issues, such as cross-border trade, transit trade, control of smuggling, narcotics etc.

For India, Nepal is specially important as it shares a 1,700-kilometre-long porous border with that country.  Further, about 40,000 Nepalese serve as regular soldiers in the Indian Army and over 1.2 lakh ex-Servicemen live in Nepal after having earned pension. 

Unfortunately, ever since King Mahendra (father of King Gyanendra) came to power, NepalIndia.  Mahendra was an astute practitioner of the policy of divide and rule in his country, playing one political party against another in order to strengthen his hold on the Government.  Encouraged by him, some political parties have also been toeing the King’s line of anti-Indian attitude. had developed an unfriendly attitude to

He was also adept in playing the Chinese card or Pakistan card against India, as it suited his convenience in trying to convey a message to India that Nepal had several options open to it.  However, India had been consistent in its policy of maintaining friendship with Nepal and had been generous in its aid to that country, without being unduly influenced by the unfriendly postures of the King and of some political parties.

Only when King Gyanendra committed the political blunder of taking over dictatorial powers for himself did India’s policy towards Nepal comes under strain. When the agitation launched by the seven-party political alliance against the King became a mass movement for the establishment of a full-fledged democratic system in Nepal, the time had arrived for India to take a clear stand on its concept of Constitutional monarchy.

Without making it clear as to what Constitutional monarchy meant for Nepal, India continued to stick to its traditional wisdom that Constitutional monarchy and democracy are the twin pillars essential for stability in the Himalayan kingdom.  In India, the Constitution has unambiguously laid down the limits of the powers of its President through Article 74 which states that the President shall exercise his powers strictly in accordance with the advice rendered by the Council of Ministers.

When King Gyanendra announced transfer of power to the seven-party alliance, he had not said anything about any amendments to the Nepalese Constitution of 1990.  There was no assurance from the King about transfer of control over the Royal Nepal army to the new Government or about abrogation of his power to dismiss Prime Minister at his will and pleasure.

Therefore, the people of Nepal were not prepared to accept the King’s announcement as an adequate response to their demand for the establishment of a genuine democracy.  India  committed the grave error of miscalculating the determination of the people not to rest till genuine democracy was established in their country.

The people of Nepal were not only angry at the inadequate response to their demand for full-fledged democracy, but were disappointed at India’s expression of optimism and faith in the King’s announcement. The mood in Nepal was quickly turning from disappointment to distrust, if not hostility, against India because of New Delhi’s failure to read correctly the signals from the streets of Kathmandu.

When India expressed happiness at the King’s announcement it had not realized that its perception about the twin pillars of Constitutional monarchy and democracy had become totally irrelevant to the situation in Nepal. Fortunately, the Foreign Secretary’s quick statement that it is for the people of Nepal to decide what they want, helped soften the blow which India’s prestige and influence in Nepal had sustained, though the damage already done has not yet been fully repaired.

While it is important that India should redefine its policy on Nepal as quickly as possible, the task is not easy.  The most complicated problem in redefining India’s policy towards Nepal  For the present, the Maoists have suspended their agitation for three months, but have not given any indication as to when or whether they would give up their arms. will be the Maoist factor.

While this is an issue for the new Government of Nepal to decide, India cannot ignore the danger arising out of the close links between the Maoists in Nepal and those in India.  There is close cooperation between the two groups in the acquisitioned and transport of weapons, training of cadres and even in planning attacks on jails, police stations etc.

Whatever may be the terms of peace which the political parties of Nepal enter into with the Maoists in their country, India has to remain firm in its stand that the Nepalese Maoists should stop their involvement in Maoist activists in India.  This is going to be the acid test for the soundness and viability of any new policy about India’s relations with the democratic Government, established there. ---INFA

 (Copyright, India News and Feature Alliance)




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