Karan goes and Jaswant to go

And Sitaram is not far behind on the road to Kathmandu

Much has been made of Dr Karan Singh’s background — as the son of the last Maharaja of Jammu & Kashmir — and his ties to the royal family of Nepal in the media reports describing his trip to Kathmandu as the Indian prime minister’s special envoy. Irony and family connections, though, should not be allowed to cloud the fact that Dr Karan Singh is a suitable candidate for the job. If there is a criticism that needs to be levelled against the UPA government, it does not relate to the merits of appointing Dr Karan Singh. But rather, that he was appointed so late in the day. Although he met King Gyanendra yesterday, at the time of writing, it is yet unclear what that meeting achieved.

If the BJP has thrust Jaswant Singh onto the stage to pursue its own ‘foreign policy’, then regardless of whether it is communal, ideological or purely political, it is first and foremost an act of poor judgement. Although the Indian Express excoriates the BJP for communalising foreign policy, Jaswant Singh’s trip can actually help serve India’s interests if he coordinates his position with that of the Indian government. Despite its traditional sympathy for the monarch recent reports suggest that the Sangh Parivar is distancing itself from Gyanendra. It would be both correct and astute for Jaswant Singh to point out to Gyanendra that the writing is pretty much on the wall.

It is also being reported that the UPA government intends to rope in Indian Communist leaders to broker political arrangements between Nepal’s political parties and the Maoists. Sitaram Yechury’s name is being thrown up. It is the Indian government’s prerogative to appoint whoever it sees fit to do the job. But only the truly credulous will believe that Yechury will keep his political affiliations out of whatever he intends to do in Nepal. Therein lies the danger.