Prachanda’s learning curve

New dogs, old tricks

Some commentators have characterised the electoral performance of the Maoists in Nepal’s constituent assembly elections as catching India by surprise. That’s not entirely incorrect. Though polls have a tendency to get pundits wrong, election results surprised most people, including the Maoists themselves.

Does this mean India should be more worried about its relations with Nepal?

Not quite. Once Comrade Prachanda becomes President or Prime Minister Pushpa Kumar Dahal and comes to grips with the reality of running a state—as opposed to running a revolution—he will realise that he has about as much policy flexibility as his predecessors.

He has already declared that Nepal would maintain “equal distance from India and China”. He also uttered phrases like “historical relationship with India”, “open borders” and developing “closer ties”. The phrases might well have been uttered for diplomatic purposes…but it might well be that the Maoists have come to understand that “equal distance” on a two-dimensional map is quite different from equal distance in three dimensional reality. High Himalayas are very three-dimensional.

For India, the main issue is having to handle a new government in Kathmandu that must learn the ropes of governance while coming to terms with the gap between a revolutionary Communism and mundane reality. In the domain of international relations, it is quite possible that the new government would do things to show that there is a new show in town, and that it has other friends, and pose for its domestic constituency. While it might well be necessary to indulge them a little, Indian and Nepali interests will both be best served if Messrs Dahal & Co’s learning curve is short.

1 thought on “Prachanda’s learning curve”

  1. Fair enough.

    But the very short learning curve messrs. Prachanda and co. have displayed in their rise from the remote Rolpa ditt. in spring 1996 to capturing the whole country by 2204 (sans the Kathmandu valley, which too has now fallen) presents a much larger problem.

    The problem of course, being that who is behind this phenomenal rise? The arms, the funds, the organization, the underground networks, the assurances of support when the going gets tough, in short the entire revolution itself could very well be a totally indigenious Nepali thing. Or not. How likely is the former in a landlocked country? Now if India is indeed pulling the strings, then fine, we know we can ride out the crisis in nepal. But what if it wasn’t Delhi that is involved?

    Recall that ex-MI6 agents were air dropping arms and were caught in Purulia in 1995. The UK sarkar intervened for their release. Who were the arms meant for? In 1996, in the remote, inaccessible and very poor western distts of Humla and Rolpa, the grand maoist revolution begins. Spontaneously? yeah, right.

    In a nutshell, there seem to be every sign that American money and management met with muscle on the ground to produce this Maoist abomination in Nepal. It could well become a US base tomorrow. How better to support the dozen odd maoist insurgencies in the Indian hinterland, besides. I’m far from sanguine about the potential for triuble in this scenario.

    Of course I trust our babus know whats going on and dont plan to sit by idly. Given our location, resources and history, we’re best placed to move mountains in Nepal, when required. We have options there, what card we choose to play should be good to watch. But I’d be wary, very wary, indeed.

    Just my 2 paise. Have a nice day, all.

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