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Amid ‘successful India visit’ claim, a section has expressed concerns


Amid Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal&’s claim that his visit to India was “highly successful,” a section in his own party, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre), does not seem to be in any mood to accept that, as some leaders, on Tuesday, criticised him for “being over-confident,” saying “India&’s stance has not changed yet.” 

During Tuesday&’s party meeting, leaders, including Narayan Kaji Shrestha, criticised the party chairman for failing to use the right language in the 25-point joint communiqué, which has been highly debated among some foreign policy experts. 

Zeroing in on point no. 11 of the Nepal-India joint statement, Maoist leaders said the wordings should have carried more diplomatic finesse to make things “more comfortable.” 

“The two prime ministers believe that both countries hold similar views on major international issues, including the comprehensive reforms of the UN and other international organisations, affecting the developing countries and work in close coordination with each other in the UN and other international fora. The Nepali side reiterated its support for India&’s candidature for permanent membership of the UN Security Council,” according to point no 11 of the Nepal-India joint statement. 

Some quarters in Nepal, especially foreign policy experts, have expressed concerns that the way it was presented “undermined Nepal&’s independent handling of foreign policy.” 

The Maoist leaders who did not seem happy about Dahal&’s way of dealing with India believed that there was no need for Dahal to be over-confident when it came to relations with India, as “New Delhi has not changed its strategy about Nepal and the Maoist party.” 

Dahal&’s, or the Maoist party&’s for that matter, relations with the southern neighbour have been somewhat tumultuous. 

Dahal&’s party that waged a decade-long war against the state would then often repeat the rhetoric of launching a tunnel war against India. After the signing of the peace process in 2006, initiated by New Delhi, Dahal became the prime minister in 2008 following a victory in the elections. 

But within months, Dahal had to resign in 2009 after his move to sack the then army chief. The Maoist party then blamed New Delhi for engineering Dahal&’s fall from government. It took seven long years for Dahal to return to power. As a one-and-a-half-month-old prime minister, when Dahal went to New Delhi last week, there were palpable signs that Dahal wanted to reboot ties with India. 

However, within the Maoist party, the suspicion about India continues to linger, and some leaders’ objection to “Dahal&’s over-confident approach” seems to be a manifestation of the very mistrust. 

“Such statements could affect Nepal&’s relations with other countries,” the leaders said. Dahal, however, maintained that the statement was just a continuation of previous governments’ policy. 

The Maoist leaders also said that Dahal should not have raised the issue of constitution in New Delhi, as it was an internal issue. 

According to sources, Dahal tried to assuage the leaders’ concerns, saying Indian support and goodwill was a must to implement the constitution and ensure timely elections and that it was not good to annoy India. 

After Tuesday&’s meeting, Maoist spokesperson Pampha Bhusal said the party concluded that Dahal&’s visit “was historic and largely successful.” 

Leader Narayan Prasad Sharma said some agreements and India welcoming the constitution implementation process were major achievements of Dahal&’s India visit. 

Asked how it could be an achievement when India did not welcome the constitution explicitly, Sharma said, “Welcoming the [constitutional] implementation process does mean welcoming the constitution”. 

Why objection in party 

Some leaders are of the view that India has not changed its stance when it comes to Nepal and Maoists. 

They say Dahal was ‘too confident’ as he tried to reboot ties with New Delhi. 

The Maoist party and New Delhi have had tumultuous relations in the past, and there still is some suspicion and mistrust about India among some leaders. 

Some Maoist leaders are of the view that some contents of the Nepal-India joint statement required more diplomatic finesse.