Indian Express

Saffron spread

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In February 2005, VHP leader Ashok Singhal stood firmly by the then king, Gyanendra,when he took over all executive powers, promising to end “terrorism”, bring democracy on track and hand back powers to political parties eventually. Singhal, however, failed to bring the RSS and BJP around to his view on Nepal, and watched helplessly when Nepal transformed into a “secular republic”, with active support from the Indian government.

Singhal has apparently been down all these years, but resurfaced in Nepal with an aggressive agenda to restore its lost status as a “Hindu nation”. On his arrival last week in eastern Nepal’s Chatara Dham, which is hosting a “Kumbh Mela” for the first time, prominent parliamentarian Pawan Sharda gave him a hero’s welcome and touched his feet. The VHP leader announced that Modi’s assumption of the prime minister’s responsibility in India will lead to Nepal’s return to Hindu status.

Chatara Kumbh has already attracted a huge number of sadhus from India, a large number of them pro-BJP, and some known to be affiliated to the Congress. But both groups seem to believe that Nepal was declared a secular country in haste “under influence from European countries, and their churches operating in Nepal.”

“It was the United States and the European Union that were responsible for Nepal, the world’s only Hindu Kingdom, being turned into a secular state”, Singhal said. “Some leader like Modi has to appear on the scene here and counter all these external activities.” Singhal’s return to Nepal comes almost nine years after his previous political attempts apparently failed. But the leading player of the Ayodhya movement that saw the demolition of the Babri Masjid way back in December 1992 appeared as militant as before, asserting that he will mobilise people and prepare them for any kind of action, any sacrifice, to have Nepal officially declared the world’s only Hindu nation again.

Singhal was silent on the issue of monarchy. But Chatara Kumbh will be the venue where the deposed king, Gyanendra Shah, and Singhal will meet. Singhal seems to have a large agenda for Nepal, including the setting up of around 7,000 “Ekal Vidhyalayas”, schools run by the Hindu Swayam Sevak Sangh, the RSS outfit in Nepal. The RSS has deputed more than a dozen pracharaks (full timers) to Nepal to fulfil its agenda, and if Singhal is to be believed, if Modi becomes prime minister, it will have some “much desired results”.

Nepal’s political class, including the ruling coalition, understandably is silent on India’s electoral prospects, but they know that the outcome would not be without impact. The ruling coalition has enjoyed all cooperation from the Manmohan Singh-led government during the past eight years of radical changes, and four years of failed endeavour to write the much-promised constitution and institutionalise those changes. The pro-monarchy forces as well as those opposed to radical changes favour Modi, hoping that he will at least have India’s Nepal policy reviewed.

Since 1996, the year the Nepali Maoists waged war against the state, demanding the abolition of the continued…

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