It seems Prachanda wanted little to do with Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao’s first visit to Nepal, choosing instead to hie himself and CPN(M)’s new foreign policy chief, Krishna Bahadur Mahara to Hong Kong. His contributions to bringing normalcy to the new republic have been largely negligible. On the occasions where he has made his presence felt, one was left with no doubt that the intent to bring stability in the nation was subservient to the desire to consolidate power and eliminate democratic due process.
However, while Prachanda may not be interested in dialog with India’s bureaucrats, there is dialog between him and Sitaram Yechury. It’s no surprise then that Prachanda is able to arrive at very innovative election models for Nepal, including a demand for indirect elections of the President by the Parliament, and a unicameral legislature, with no opposition.
Despite the deadlock in Nepal, Sitaram Yechury’s involvement in political reconciliation, at the behest of New Delhi, is a step in wrong direction. The CPI(M) has done precious little in the areas of governance and social and economic upliftment. They exist to stymie progress and satisfy their own inflated egos. But once given the opportunity to lead, they fail, rather spectacularly. One only has to look at the state of affairs in West Bengal and Kerala — bastions of CPI(M) rule in India — and gauge the impact of the decades of their rule on their social and economic development.
And Yechury’s protégés behave no different in Nepal. Prachanda’s response to PM Madhav Nepal’s recently concluded 34-point agreement with India on areas including trade imbalance, infrastructure, development and military aid, was to complain that the PM’s visit was “humiliating” because it lacked adequate press coverage from the Indian media!
To be sure, there are several issues that confront Nepal today — rehabilitation of the PLA within the armed forces, framing a constitutional framework by May 2010, linguistic reconciliation and quelling ethnic unrest in southern Nepal. Today, the fate of the new republic is precariously perched; the challenges that confront it are significant, but by no means are they as insurmountable as depicted by Indian and international media.
With all its faults, the UML-led government has endured, quite inexplicably, and no one is more shocked about this than Prachanda. Unhappy about his self-inflicted irrelevance to the policital process (especially given CPN(M)’s popular support), he has wasted no opportunity to try and bring the government down, even threatening a third installment of the Jana Andolan (People’s Movement) to achieve his goals.
If the UML government continues to hold fort, CPN(M)’s disruptive position will inevitably soften, allowing for a possible “face-saving” compromise on core divergent issues confronting the State. The modalities of the compromise can be effectively worked out if the CPN(M) is convinced of the relative durability of the government and the futility in trying to lead a united front with several individually insignificant, conflicting opposition members. For now, India’s primary focus today should be to assist the government to hold fort. Political reconciliation will come naturally when the futility of CPN(M)’s shenanigans is effectively demonstrated.