Next door Nepal: Betrayal on Baisakh 11

The day, in 2006, when India lost Nepal’s trust

Written by Yubaraj Ghimire | Published:May 1, 2017 12:49 am
India, nepal, Bhutan, Indo-nepal, India-nepal connectivity, sub-regional connectivity, Indo-nepal sub-regional connectivity, Indian epxress news Photo for representational purpose

This year, Baisakh 11 fell on April 24. It is a significant date for Nepal. On this day, 11 years ago, King Gyanendra handed over power to Nepal’s political parties, ending his 14 month-long direct rule. This transfer was facilitated by senior Indian National Congress leader Karan Singh and the-then Indian foreign secretary Shyam Saran — special emissaries of the-then Indian PM Manmohan Singh. The handover of power, along with the appointment of G.P. Koirala as Nepal’s PM and the revival of the House of Representatives and the king’s declaration that Nepal’s new constitution would be prepared by an elected constituent assembly, brought a 19-day mass movement to an end.

Ecstatic leaders promised to use a “consensus”-based approach to take Nepal along the path of political stability and economic prosperity. There were some historic announcements in the first session of the constituent assembly on May 4, 2006. These included declaring Nepal, till then the world’s only Hindu kingdom, a “secular country”. Members of the royal family were to be brought under the tax net, and the king’s daughter, if she was the eldest among her siblings, would be eligible to the throne. All this gave an impression that Nepal was following the South African model in which Nelson Mandela and the apartheid regime worked together during a transition period to carve out a future based on reconciliation, putting a bitter feud behind.

But politics took a different course as subsequent events unfolded in clear deviation from the “spirit of Baisakh 11” and the May 4 declarations. Apparently, the contents of the royal declaration were decided after a series of back-channel meetings and parleys between Indian emissaries and the king. The Indian emissaries also met leaders of the pro-democracy parties separately. But the Maoists, who had spearheaded the decade-long insurgency from February 1996 and were part of the movement along with seven parties this time around, were not made party to the Baisakh 11 solution. Instead, they made their radical voice louder and warned political parties against retaining the monarchy in any form. The Maoists were apparently used as a “reserve force” to upset the Baisakh 11 settlement based on reconciliation between the king and pro-democracy forces.

The monarchy was put under suspension, then removed in May 2008. Nepal’s two largest parties — the Nepali Congress, led by G. P. Koirala, and the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist — could not defy the Maoists. India’s ministry of external affairs (MEA) threw its weight behind the Maoists and their radical agenda. Why did the two pro-democracy parties follow the Maoist radical agenda unconditionally? MEA’s clear support to the Maoists perhaps, and India’s clout in Nepal’s politics, made all the difference. But this also resulted in India losing the trust of at least three major forces in Nepal: The monarchy, the Nepali Congress and the Communist Party (UML) that transformed into a democratic party some 16 years. Why did India prefer a radical force, whose democratic credentials were not tested, to its traditional allies?

This action not only resulted in a loss of credibility for India in Nepal, but also contributed to its competitor, China, being perceived as more trustworthy and dependable. Indian policymakers failed to foresee this in 2006. The recently-concluded joint military exercise between Nepal and China, and the latter emerging as the biggest contributor to FDI over the past three years, are just two examples of the growing ties between the two countries. India, in contrast, has not been able to find new friends, at least, no one as effective as its traditional allies of yore. With Nepal’s prolonged transition and its failure as a democracy, Baisakh 11 invariably casts its shadow not only on the country’s journey to peace, stability and economic prosperity, but also on India’s ability to identify forces which will help it develop smooth bilateral relations with Nepal. “The seven parties had their own agenda, and Maoists had theirs. The king immediately complied with the message of Dr. Manmohan Singh,” revealed Karan Singh last year in an interview to a Nepali newspaper. Clearly, democracy and political stability have not taken roots in Nepal, and Karan Singh could not conceal his frustration.

Eleven years down the line, this year, the Nepal government removed Baisakh 11 from the national calendar as “Loktantra Diwas”. That seems to be an indicator that political forces in Nepal have realised that the movement of 2006 has lost its direction and goal. But they can still prove its relevance by admitting that the endorsement of a radical agenda is, in the long run, inimical to democracy and its values. Democracy gives space to all shades of opinion, and ultimately, to the people, who have not been involved in any crucial political decision so far.

yubaraj.ghimire@expressindia.com

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  1. A
    abcdef
    May 9, 2017 at 7:40 pm
    It isn't surprising that stan's political and journalistic bread and butter is India-bashing. There isn't so-called "Indian-influence" in stan but we know the political state of affairs. Ideologically opposing multiple power centres has put self-interest and political-interest above national interests and citizen's interest in the country. Nepal doesn't seem to have the ability to take the responsibility of the cons utional & political chaos because it's easier to blame "indian-influence". This "indian-influence" is an exaggeration and running away from taking responsibility of not being able to fulfill aspirations of its majority population as well as ethnic minorities. Nepal must learn from crisis and poverty that it's neighbours China and India rose from to become influential and powerful countries. Nepal is in a position to hugely benefit from it's influential neighbours. But here too, multiple power centres has put self-interest above national and citizen's interests.
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    1. A
      abcdef
      May 9, 2017 at 7:38 pm
      It isn't surprising that stan's political and journalistic bread and butter is India-bashing. There isn't so-called "Indian-influence" in stan but we know the political state of affairs. Ideologically opposing multiple power centres has put self-interest and political-interest above national interests and citizen's interest in the country. Nepal doesn't seem to have the ability to take the responsibility of the cons utional & political chaos because it's easier to blame "indian-influence". This "indian-influence" is an exaggeration and running away from taking responsibility of not being able to fulfill aspirations of its majority population as well as ethnic minorities. Nepal must learn from crisis and poverty that it's neighbours China and India rose from to become influential and powerful countries. Nepal is in a position to hugely benefit from it's influential neighbours. But here too, multiple power centres has put self-interest above national and citizen's interests.
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        Bihari Krishna
        May 1, 2017 at 10:08 pm
        The article vindicates what Shashi Tharoor said during India's blockade of Nepal in 2015 was India's foreign policy: How to Lose Friends and Alienate People". The chronology of "The Betrayal of Baisakh" shows that even Karan Singh, a close relative of King Gyanendra, was used only to serenade him into agreeing to the restoration of the parliament and to a cons uent embly. Thereafter, Shyam Saran, then Indian PM's envoy, brought in the demand for monarchy's abolition by the Maoists, then hosted and nurtured by New Delhi. But Nepal is not an isolated case of such double dealing by India. While stan was never a friend of India, the latter has also lost Sri Lanka, Maldives, Bangladesh, and now Bhutan, which has just refused to join India's so-called BBIN initiative. Given the shared culture, tradition, history, geography, Nepal and India should have been the best of friends on this planet. So India must make amends to Nepal by helping her return to the pre-Baisakh Betrayal days.
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        1. K
          K. K.
          May 1, 2017 at 9:51 pm
          Whatever has happened has happened. Now one needs to do what is needed in the contest of the end of Chinese apathy in Nepali politics. One cannot undo what has happened, but one can do what is now necessary.
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          1. S
            Seshubabu Kilambi
            May 1, 2017 at 7:55 pm
            Now, it is the other way round .
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            1. K
              K. K.
              May 1, 2017 at 10:22 pm
              Yes goodwill produces goodwill in return, And betrayal produces betrayal in return. All relations are two-way process.
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            2. H
              Harsh
              May 1, 2017 at 6:09 pm
              Actually, India has helped Nepal and Kashmir on the basis of humanitarian ground as both kings have refused to merge with India and becomes an independent country in 1947. Therefore, it was the duty of respective kings and king’s men to protect their country’s independence. However, king of Kashmir failed to maintain independence even for few days and king of Nepal for few years. Therefore, to blame India for all the mess is totally baseless as money of Indian people that would have been used for their welfare has been spent on those people who refused to become Indian.
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                siddhant
                May 1, 2017 at 8:57 pm
                Upgrade your history knowledge first Nepal never been the colony of British or mughals.so no logic in comparison.
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              2. D
                Dirgha Raj
                May 1, 2017 at 4:51 pm
                This article 'Betrayal on Baisakh 11 ' by Yubaraj Ghimire is very appreciate and praiseworthy. He has expressed all the betrayals in the time of Congress (I) and its RAW against Nepal unity and monarchy. Nepali Congress (NC), UML and UCPN (Maoist) leaderships have already failed. No one can succeed by breaking the agreement. On 24, April, 2006, the people’s uprising came to a stop after an agreement was reached between the monarchy, NC and UML and Maoist included. The agitators were pleading for monarchy as an alternative force in times of crisis. An agreement was reached to reinstate the House of Representatives, which was dissolved under NC recommendation 6 years ago, although the monarchy did not posses the right to reinstate it. The monarchy reinstated the parliament and appointed Girija Prasad Koirala to the post of PM. The king himself in the royal Palace premises gave the oath of office ceremony of Prime Minister. Gradually, the agreement reached with the king was broken.
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                  manu
                  May 1, 2017 at 4:39 pm
                  Nepalis blame India so often that you don't feel like Nepal is sovereign country. they might as well become a state of India.
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                    Dave Joshi
                    May 1, 2017 at 5:33 pm
                    That happens when you stick your nose on someone's too much. And you complain of U.S :)
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                    Prashant Kumar
                    May 1, 2017 at 4:11 pm
                    This article is not even worth of reading..Nepalese people should concentrate on their own country rather than infighting and blaming it on India dia has supplied them with basic goods for all these years.We Indians are tired of our complaining neighbors who use our resources for survival and then abuse us.
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                      siddhant
                      May 1, 2017 at 10:06 pm
                      Do some research why yechuri gang supported and brought to power to Maoist (then declared terrorist by India and Nepal) instead of resolving their naxalite issue.12point agreement about Nepal's future in Delhi was another disaster.micromanagement in smaller internal issues is failed diplomacy.
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