छिमेकी

know your neighbour

Reading Nepal’s Maoists Movement Through Wikileaks- Part II

Posted by chimeki on July 20, 2012


(to read the first part of the article click here)

India’s Game:

The cables present a ‘carefree’ picture of then Indian establishment. Unlike the US and the King India was not worried about the Maoists’ takeover. However it continued to keep the US in dark of its policy on Maoists. India shrewdly made the US believe that it was not going to compromise with the Maoists and at same time it was establishing contact with the senior Maoists leaders.

It seems that by 2004 India had already made the decision of Nepal without a King. A December 6 article in the Hindustan Times Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran was quoted as suggesting bringing in ‘progressive Maoists’ in mainstream. Nevertheless to show its commitment for the constitutional monarchy and its disdain for the Maoists, India frequently put forth several pre-conditions for its support to the Monarchy. It knew that the King was creating the Maoist phobia only to establish an absolute Monarchy. On 8 December 2004 Secretary Shayam Saran outlined a four point approach to dealing with the Maoist:

–India and Nepal must coordinate more closely in order to resolve the Maoist problem;

— The Maoists must understand that they cannot win militarily and that the longer they avoid negotiations, the weaker their bargaining power will become.  This requires sustained military pressure on the Maoists, and concrete military successes by the Royal Nepal Army (RNA);

–The Palace and the political parties must put aside their differences, and present a united front to the Maoists;

— Development is one means of overcoming the Maoist threat. Kathmandu should “hitch itself” to India’s economy in order to promote economic growth. (04NEWDELHI7750)

These guidelines were meant for the King. However for the King these were unacceptable conditions. The King didn’t want to bring India in and also was reluctant to join hands with the political parties. In the same cable the under secretary Manu Mahawar suggested the US ambassador that the King should not undermine Deuba’s authority as it would only exacerbate the situation. Which suggests that Indian establishment knew from it sources that what future held for Dueba.

But undermining once again the authority of India the king dismissed the Deuba government. From this point onward India was free of inhibition and worked more rapidly to bring in Maoists together with the political parties.

‘Writing in The Indian Express Foreign Affairs strategist C Raja Mohan observed, ‘that the King had gambled that India would reluctantly support the monarchy when faced with a choice between the Maoists and the Palace.  General Ashok Mehta argued that the King’s actions reflect his obsession with power, and said it was unlikely that that the King would ever restore democracy’, noted the ambassador on 2 February2002.

Two days later India suspended the military pipeline and told the ambassador that it was worried about China and Russia involvement in Nepal. In cable number 05NEWDELHI922 (2005-02-04) India was particularly worried about reports that the RNA chief had contacted Russia to provide MI-17 helicopters.  “We just cannot accept that,” Saran underlined, adding that the mere fact of the request was worrisome.  Saran was also concerned by rumors that President Musharraf was reaching out to the King, fearing that this too could be part of an effort to take advantage of India’s firm policy in order to cultivate influence with the Palace.  The Ambassador noted that the US had already weighed in with the Chinese, and promised to convey the Foreign Secretary’s worries about other players. This suggests India was blocking every help the King could get. For India the Maoists were not as big a problem as the King himself. Devoid of check (political parties) the King could have done as the Maoists would have if they had come to mainstream without compromise.

Nepalese Diaspora also played an important role for making India ‘liberal’ towards the Maoists. As the US ambassador in New Delhi noted in cable number 05NEWDELHI1556,  ‘in contrast to most Nepal residents, who reportedly are not considering radical changes to the monarchy, as they are widely supportive of the institution, many Indian Nepal experts are beginning to contemplate the future of the Kingdom without a monarch.’

In the same cable the ambassador quotes Former Indian Ambassador to Nepal AR Deo who suggests, ‘Nepal appears to be no exception to the international trend of monarchies ending around the globe. The question for policy makers is how to ensure a soft landing.’ So it can be fairly concluded that by March 2003 the Indian establishment was concentrating in ensuring ‘a soft landing’ instead of saving Monarchy. Accordingly it started facilitating the negotiations between the Maoists and the political parties.

By August 2006 the US lost it hope of bringing India and the King together. In cable number 05NEWDELHI6595 the ambassador notes, ‘Washington Must Lead, Because New Delhi Can’t’. In the same cable JNU professor assured the ambassador that the Maoists were willing to join a democratic government and even accept a titular monarchy, ‘alluding to his close connections to senior Maoist leaders (he responded to a challenge by asserting that he had met CPN(M) chief Prachanda “within the past 10 months”), Muni asked us to trust the Maoists’ willingness to participate in a peaceful political process(05NEWDELHI6595).’  Here the ambassador understood that they were checkmated and the ambassador says, ‘We were struck by the widespread acceptance among New Delhi’s Nepal watchers of the idea that King Gyanendra has made himself dispensable.  We have convoked this group repeatedly since February 1, and on this occasion found a stark souring of views on the King, which contrasts with the GOI’s continued commitment to the “twin pillars” of constitutional monarchy and multiparty democracy’.

Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran met Gyanendra on 12 December 2005. In this meeting the King begged for time to correct his moves however Saran told him point blank, ‘that India could wait, but the time line is now imposed by the progress of events in Nepal, not India’s actions.’

The Maoists’ Position

The picture that the cables present of the Maoists is of an opportunist party rather than a revolutionary one. They were more guided by the situations than by ideology. At one time they looked as if they were for revolutionary change in Nepal and at other time they were ready to compromise with the King. They even went further to sell the sovereignty of the nation just to land safely in the mainstream. One time they projected India as an enemy and the next time they ‘begged’ it for support. The US never quite trusted the Maoists but India always felt at home with them. India somehow knew- which proved right after 2006- that the Maoists would never threatened its interest.

The Maoists on the other hand ‘exploited’ all the opportunities they could find to come to the mainstream. Their eagerness to get legitimacy was more funny than frightening. And it looks that all the negotiations with the government of Nepal failed only because the government was not interested in making it success otherwise the Maoists might have compromised well before 2006.

In 2003 talk they dropped their demand of constitutional assembly and in 2005 they agreed for ‘a titular monarchy’. Had the King showed them some ‘benevolence’ they would have also refused to form an alliance with the political parties.  This was proved in 2003 when they, sidelining the political parties, demanded the formation of an interim government under their leadership. And even before in 2001 when they shamelessly declared that they were in touch with the late King Birendra. After the King was ousted they signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement with political parties. They didn’t care to ask how could Girja represent the state of Nepal. Didn’t his only qualification was that he had India’s trust!

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