Thursday, April 14, 2011

Shadow Of Sino - Indian Rivalry Over Nepal

The extended tenure of the constituent assembly (parliament) of Nepal expires May 28. It is unlikely that the parliament will be able to complete writing the constitution for the republic and find ways for integration into the army of some 20 ,000 Maoist combatants now cantoned at several places within the next six weeks. Political parties are sharply divided and prospect is dim of reaching a consensus. People in general are fed up that parliament could not present the nation a constitution even in three years. Political observers predict of a deepening crisis that may lead to chaos and bloodshed.    UCPN (Maoist) chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal alias Prachanda who is also head of parliamentary committee for constitution drafting committee sought two months extension of the constituent assembly (parliament) to complete its task. Nepali Congress, political parties of Tarai region (plains along the Indian border) and pro- monarchy parties are vehemently opposed to further extension of constituent assembly. They are forging unity to resist the UML- UCPN (Maoist) communist coalition government moves under the leadership of Nepali Congress. They view constituent assembly will automatically be dissolved on 28 May midnight. Presidential rule will follow and a fresh election will be held within months. Once CA is dissolved, UCPN (Maoist) will not be treated as the largest political party. All parties will be treated equally for holding election.    Political observers in Kathmandu noted with keen interest that leaders of three Tarai parties visited India last month on invitation from New Delhi. What transpired in their meetings with Indian leaders was not known. But their visit followed series of bomb blasts in Tarai region for several days. Media quoted intelligence officials as saying that underground outfits of Tarai parties returning from sanctuaries across the border in India created widespread trouble. The outfits have planned uprising after the May 28 deadline of the constituent assembly. Prospect of India imposing economic blockade to the landlocked Nepal in a troubled situation is not ruled out. In fact, Tarai party leader Gacchadhar has openly suggested New Delhi to impose economic sanction blocking supply of essentials.    Caretaker govt.    Sensing the trouble Prime Minister Jhala Nath Khanal told a function in Kathmandu on April 10 that conspiracies were being hatched behind the scene against completion of constitution drafting and peace process. Maoist party leaders believe that even if CA is dissolved on May 28 , the coalition government will continue as caretaker government until fresh election is held. They are also alert about the possible intervention from within and without the country. UCPN-UML coalition will not quit the government at any cost. It has reportedly planning to sack President Ram Baran Yadav to preempt his attempt to take over the power. UCPN sources said they have already started home work for this.    Analysts say even if the constituent assembly promulgates the constitution for the republic by May 28 , it will not be able to address all issues, aspirations of Tarai and indigenous ethnic groups. Such a situation is likely to trigger widespread disturbances and clashes. And if CA fails to give the constitution by the deadline, clash between left and democratic forces is inevitable. The Maoist party has plans to capture the state power and it will not so easily quit the government. It plans to go for fresh polls while remaining in government and return with two- thirds majority so that they can in future bring about necessary changes in the constitution and laws to cut short democratic forces.    UCPN (Maoist) had emerged the largest party in 2008 election with 237 seats in the 600- member constituent assembly - more than what Nepali Congress and UML together got the seats. But its government with Pushpa Kamal Dahal as Prime Minister could not survive more than 8 months. The government leaders criticized New Delhi for interference in internal affairs of Nepal.    The fall of communist government was reportedly orchestrated by India which had installed henchman Madhav Kumar Nepal of UML as Prime Minister with support of Nepali Congress. After months of political bickering and internal conflict in UML, Madhav Kumar stepped down. Sixteen attempts to elect a new prime minister by CA spanning over two months have failed. Finally, UML and UCPN forged an alliance and Khanal of UML, known as half Maoist, was elected prime minister on February 3 with the Maoist support. India leaning Nepali Congress, dissenting group in UML and Tarai based parties have termed the election of Khanal a conspiracy to sideline democratic forces and establish communist rule in the country. Lack of consensus among the political parties on vital issues of the constitution and integration of Maoist combatants as agreed earlier are the reasons for CA failing to draft the constitution even in three years. Failure of politicians has evoked displeasure and severe public criticism.         The dark horse    In the melee, a number of high level Chinese delegation visited Nepal showing keen interest in developing deep relationship with Kathmandu. The Chinese leaders have issued veiled threat against Indian interference in internal affairs of Nepal. Chinese military delegation led by PLA chief General Chen Bingde visited Nepal for three days last month. Chinese leaders have openly stated that political stability in Nepal is essential for overall stability of the entire region. A number of agreements have been reportedly reached between China and Nepal in order to think about the security concerns of both the two friendly neighbours. In fact, China will flood Nepal with generous assistance and military logistics. All that Nepal needs to do is just to signal the things it wants, writes People's Review of Nepal.    Such a prospect has unnerved New Delhi. It has been weaving plans to maintain domination over the landlocked Himalyan country. Analysts predict India will meet China in Nepal. How and when are remains a matter of great interest.