Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Gyanendra’s time is up

Gyanendra’s time is up
C Raja Mohan
The Indian Express , April 14, 2006


"New Delhi seems paralysed in taking the next steps on dealing with the Nepal crisis...
If Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi have criticised the communist parties
for “communalising” India’s foreign policy on Iran, they should be giving no quarter to the Hindutva crowd on Nepal.
In India, the BJP is only part of the problem. The Palace in Nepal retains enduring political links to
India’s own princes and thakurs, some of whom have considerable clout in the Congress Party.
Above all, the Ministry of Defence and the Army have been among the
strongest opponents to any policy that antagonises King Gyanendra".


By his reckless actions, the king has made himself the main problem in Nepal. That he has managed to get Marxist leader Sitaram Yechury, former National Security Adviser Brajesh Mishra and US President George W. Bush on the same side of the debate on Nepal reveals all you need to know about King Gyanendra’s ham-handed power play in the Himalayan kingdom.

Since a shocking regicide put him in charge of Nepal’s destiny in June 2001, Gyanendra’s burning desire to restore royal absolutism has consistently outpaced his judgment on the prospects for his own survival or the collective interests of his country.
Most authoritarian rulers extend their rule either by mobilising valuable external support or by dividing their domestic opposition. However, the ambitious but inept Gyanendra has few friends left in the world or at home.

Much like President Musharraf in Pakistan, Gyanendra was betting that the Bush administration might separate itself from New Delhi and back him in the presumed fight between Palace and Maoists. The Bush administration, however, is also for promoting democracy. Unlike Musharraf, Gyanendra is not in a position to tilt the scales in Washington in favour of the status quo by citing the great war on terror. Further, the Bush administration appears to have taken a political decision to follow the Indian lead in Nepal.

Gyanendra has also sought to play the China card. Beijing, which initially played along in the hope of expanding long-term strategic influence in Nepal, now seem to be having second thoughts. When Chinese State Councillor Tang Jiaxuan was in Nepal in March, he found time to interact with opposition political leaders. This in spite of Tang visiting the kingdom as a state guest.

Meanwhile, domestic backing for Gyanendra has long evaporated. As he sought to dominate Nepal, Gyanendra was faced with two opponents — the political parties who wanted restoration of constitutional rule and Maoists who demanded abolition of the monarchy. By trying to divide the political parties and playing the fool with the Maoists, Gyanendra achieved the impossible of getting both opponents together on one platform.

Even the most elementary survival strategy on the part of the Palace demanded peace with one of the opponents. As he shunned repeated advice from India that he make up with the political parties and strengthen his hands vis a vis the Maoists, Delhi played a part in bringing the other two elements in Nepal’s power struggle together.

Gyanendra’s crackdown is yet another reminder that India should not labour under any illusions about Gyanendra’s ability to follow either his own enlightened self-interest or that of Nepal as a whole. Yet, New Delhi seems paralysed in taking the next steps on dealing with the Nepal crisis. Forget for a moment the talk of big bully India intervening in Nepal’s internal affairs. It is Gyanendra who is mobilising different groups within India to keep Delhi’s decision-making on Nepal off balance. Despite Brajesh Mishra’s warning that Gyanendra is digging the grave of the monarchy in Nepal, the RSS and VHP continue to fawn upon the only Hindu king in the world.

If Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi have criticised the communist parties for “communalising” India’s foreign policy on Iran, they should be giving no quarter to the Hindutva crowd on Nepal. In India, the BJP is only part of the problem. The Palace in Nepal retains enduring political links to India’s own princes and thakurs, some of whom have considerable clout in the Congress Party. Above all, the Ministry of Defence and the Army have been among the strongest opponents to any policy that antagonises King Gyanendra. Both cite concerns about the need to keep the Royal Nepal Army in good humour and keep in mind the reality of Nepali Gorkhas serving in the Indian Army. There are others who point to the Maoist threat to India.
None of these reasons justify India’s masterly inactivity on Nepal. While questions remain about the sincerity of the Maoists in joining the national mainstream, for the moment the target of India’s policy energy must be the king.

By his reckless actions, he has made himself the main problem in Nepal. An Indian failure to put Gyanendra immediately on notice would have a number of dangerous consequences. In the last few years, much of the world, including the United States and the European Union have waited for India to take the lead on Nepal and agreed to coordinate their policies with those of New Delhi. If India holds back, other powers would soon begin to act on their own.

If India does not act immediately, the ground situation — worsening by the day — would compel India to consider more drastic remedies in the future. That could include military intervention to prevent state failure in Nepal. New Delhi continues to hope that Gyanendra would come up with a new political initiative, which could come as soon as Friday. If the king, however, makes a half-cocked move, the temptation to postpone hard decisions would be irresistible. Resisting that temptation, India should make its bottomline clear. Restoration of parliament, formation of a national government, peace talks with the Maoists, and a schedule for elections to a new Constituent Assembly that would write a new political future for Nepal.

If Gyanendra falls short of that framework, India should be prepared to impose new sanctions against the king. India rightly recognises that any such sanctions should not hurt the ordinary people in Nepal. But it is entirely possible for India to move quickly towards a comprehensive arms embargo and a set of “smart sanctions” targetting the key functionaries of the regime — especially their assets abroad and their right to travel. If Gyanendra comes to terms with reality, a purely ceremonial monarchy might yet have a place in Nepal’s future. If he can’t, India must be prepared for a republican Nepal.

8 comments:

Mark K said...

I think in many ways, if not for the people of Nepal then for the people of the subcontinent, would be an Indian intervention against a Maoist Nepal, because that would forcibly unify the Nepalese struggle with that of the Nazalites, and the possibility of Nepal operating as a base area for the subcontinent. If the Indian state is faced with the entire of its far north - Kashmir, Nepal, Bhutan (via the Nepalese there), and of course the North-East Assam, together with the liberated zones of Orissa, Bengal etc, the Indian state could be at real risk. Well, I'm getting ahead of myself here, but the hope must be that Nepal will lead to greater things.

Mark K said...

sorry that should have read "the best thing would be an Indian intervention"

Klement said...

I cannot agree. Indian intervention would be a bad thing. The CP India (Maoist) is gaining strength, but still is not up to the task of bogging down the Indian army in a strategic equilibrium. They need more time to consolidate their recent gains. The most favorable situation is one in which the Nepalese revolution succeeds without any intervention. Furthermore, a People's Republic of Nepal would not be a "base area" for the Indian Maoists. It would have diplomatic relations with India and would provide ideological but not material support for other Maoist parties.

Umer A. Chaudhry said...

While in agreement with Klement, I must say that Mark is proposing nothing but Trotskyist adventurism. Such ultra-left propositions would be extremely harmful for the world communist movement in general, and south-asian communist movement in perticulr.


The Nexalite movement must learn from the CPN(m). The success, as it appears to be, of the CPN(m) is owing to the fact that they avoided ultra-left dogmatic positions and remained both militant as well as tactically flexible. The Communist parties of the world must learn from the movement of Nepali Maoists, and study the concept of United Front with more depth and with more seriousness.

You are the most welcome to read the CMKP's statement on Tenth Anniversary of CPN(m)'s Revolutionary Struggle. Itis present at:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/cmkp_pk/message/4257

In Solidarity,
Vidrohi

Paramendra Bhagat said...

King Of India
King's Address: Old Wine, Old Bottle
Could Girija Be President?

Renegade Eye said...

Happy May Day.

Umer A. Chaudhry said...

Happy May Day,

I will post the picture and report of May Day in Lahore in few days.

In Solidarity,
Vidrohi

Renegade Eye said...

I think Nepal is a wait and see situation.