India'sneighbourhood is increasingly becoming dangerous. In the west, we have Pakistan which is under siege by the Taliban, who were fashioned by the country'selite. In the south, there is Sri Lanka which is fighting a vicious civil war with the Tamil terrorists, a war whose flames have reached India and influenced its politics. In the east, Bangladesh recently faced an armed rebellion by a paramilitary force which, apparently, was abetted by jehadi elements. Terrorist organisations, aided by Pakistan'snotorious ISI, are a big threat not only to Bangladesh but also to India. And now we also have a situation in the north, as Nepal Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ?Prachanda? resigned. He was protesting President Rambaran Yadav'sdecision to veto his sacking of the Army Chief, General Rookmangud Katawal.
The attempted dismissal of the Army Chief was a typical Maoist ploy to achieve the long-term goal?total control over the Himalayan nation. Ever since Prachanda'sCommunist Party of Nepal-Maoists (CPN-M) overwhelmed the royalty by armed insurgency and got into power, it has been surreptitiously trying to augment its power and influence, capture all institutions, and liquidate anybody not falling in line. The Army Chief was one of those who refused to give the CPN-M a walkover; he faced the Maoist fire. He has survived?so far. However, how long he survives will depend on many factors, an important one of them being India.
It is a well-known fact that, for reasons which are ideological as well as political and strategic, the CPN-M is closer to China than it is to India. Always keen to harass and chafe India, the rulers of China want an anti-India regime in Kathmandu. The CPN-M has no compunctions in playing Beijing'sstooge. So, Prachanda insinuated against India, blaming international power centres for the crisis and warned that ?such an interference is not at all acceptable to us.?
His deputy Baburam Bhattarai had no reservations against naming India. In a television interview, he alleged that India was directly responsible for the veto on Katawal'sdismissal; New Delhi, he said, was ?instigating? the President to ?go against the Constitution.?
Bhattarai is the same chap who, in the Congress-Left bonhomie days, was feted in New Delhi. The Times Of India reported in May 2005 that security agencies had arranged a a clandestine meeting between him and Communist Party of India (Marxist) chief Prakash Karat.
The meeting was a testimony to the inordinate influence the Reds enjoyed those days. There was an Interpol red corner notice against Bhattarai; Indian security agencies were supported to arrest him, but they did not do so, thanks to the Left'sproximity to the powers that be.
One would have expected that now the Left, which withdrew support to the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government last year, does not sway official policy. That, unfortunately, is not true. Consider the Left'sreaction to Prachanda'sresignation. The issue of the Nepalese Army Chief'sdismissal should be ?resolved through consultation and consensus between the President and the political parties,? CPM leader Sitaram Yechury said. ?We hope the crisis will be resolved within the democratic framework which has been realised by Nepali people after innumerable sacrifices and struggles. The decision of the meeting of 18 political parties in Kathmandu to form an alternative all-inclusive government including the Maoists is a possible way out.?
It may be recalled that Yechury is quite close to the Maoists and had played a crucial role in getting the Maoists close to power in Nepal. Since the present crisis is ?an internal affair,? only the Nepali people and their political leadership should resolve it and ?no interference must be brooked in this process.?
Significantly?and ominously, from the Indian perspective?it is not just the CPM, the traditional friends of China, which is peddling the no-interference line, but also the Communist Party of India which is following this line. CPI leader D Raja said, ?There should be no interference by any external power, be it India, China or anyone else.?
And guess what? The UPA regime has accepted the Left'sdiktat over the issue. ?What is happening in Nepal is internal to Nepal. We wish Nepal well in its transition to a fully democratic polity,? External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said in a statement. This passivity is disturbingly in accordance with the wishes of the Reds. The invisible hand of the Left continues to write foreign policy.
(The author works with Political and Business Daily)