STRIFE-torn Nepal’s fledgling democracy is at the strategic crossroads today. Whether or not the country will survive the vicissitudes of its complex and sometimes violent power politics depends on whether its political leaders can rise to the challenge of putting an end to their petty squabbles or whether the Maoists will decide to act as a genuine nationalist force rather than a motley crowd of power-hungry guerrillas who prefer to let their guns do the talking.
The first decade of the 21st century has been a tumultuous one for Nepal. Two years of brutal repression by a despotic regime were followed by the people’s short but intense agitation that led to the restoration of parliamentary democracy in April 2006. Finally, King Gyanendra was forced to throw in the towel and give up the kingdom and his ill-gotten riches.
A seven-party alliance headed by Prime Minister GP Koirala came to power. But soon fissures began to appear in the alliance and Prachanda, a Maoist, became the Prime Minister, but he too could not survive as a Prime Minister for long.
In recent years, the Maoists under the influence of external forces have emerged as the single force trying to subvert the geopolitical truisms that bind India and Nepal. During their days in power, the Maoists allowed Chinese influence to pervade Nepal’s economy and infrastructure development. The author says that if peace remains elusive, it is mainly due to the intransigence of the Maoist leadership, which has “unambiguously enunciated its ultimate objective of turning Nepal into a totalitarian communist regime.” What is more, “they refuse to abandon their so-called revolution and they refuse to shun violence.”
The author warns that if the anti-India and pro-China constituency is allowed to gain ascendancy through manipulation of “uninformed masses in Nepal or through armed coercion, particularly in the hills,” Nepal is bound to explode. China will not be averse to the implosion or vertical split of Nepal and a total Maoist takeover of Nepal with the tacit support of China would spell disaster for India, since at present Nepal is serving as a buffer between India and China.
(Lancer Publishers & Distributors, 2/42 (B) Sarvapriya Vihar, New Delhi – 110 016; www.lancerpublishers.com)