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Sunday, July 22, 2018

Why is Lobsang Sangay calling for Dalai Lama to return to Tibet?

The remarks by the Tibetan prime minister-in-exile grist to speculation that the distance between the government in New Delhi and the Dalai Lama’s people is growing.

Written by Jyoti Malhotra | Updated: March 31, 2018 5:59:51 pm
Dalai Lama has won many hearts, including in China. India’s decision to shun him reflects poorly on Delhi. Let us be clear that none of this could have happened without the sanction of the government in Delhi. No senior BJP leader, especially Ram Madhav who is also an RSS leader, would have dared visit McLeodganj if the ministry of external affairs had not said it was okay to do so.

Tibet’s prime minister-in-exile Lobsang Sangay calling for His Holiness the Dalai Lama to return to the Potala palace in Lhasa is both surprising and odd. Surprising, because it indicates an ongoing conversation between the Chinese government and the Tibetan government-in-exile in Dharamsala that has been in the realm of rumour for several months.

Odd, not only because this is the first time in several decades that something like has been publicly said, but because it also adds grist to speculation that the distance between the government in New Delhi and the Dalai Lama’s people is growing.

Remember the letter written by Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale to the Cabinet Secretary, as first reported by the ‘Indian Express,’ saying that all functions in Delhi commemorating the Dalai Lama’s arrival in Delhi won’t be allowed because this is a “sensitive time?”

But at the function today in McLeodganj, the home of the Dalai Lama in Dharamshala, where the “thank you India” function was held, senior BJP leaders like party general secretary Ram Madhav, culture minister Mahesh Sharma and former Himachal chief minister Shanta Kumar sat next to the Tibetan leader. Satyabrat Chaturvedi from the Congress party added a dimension of political consensus.

Let us be clear that none of this could have happened without the sanction of the government in Delhi. No senior BJP leader, especially Ram Madhav who is also an RSS leader, would have dared visit McLeodganj if the ministry of external affairs had not said it was okay to do so.

Interestingly, Shanta Kumar, who in the past has demanded a Bharat Ratna for the Dalai Lama, today described as a “tragedy” the fact that the Dalai Lama had to leave home in 1959 and escape to India. China should pave the way for his return, he added.

So what is going on? As India goes about “resetting” its relationship with China – meaning, that it is cutting back on all criticism in the face of China’s rising strength — do Shanta Kumar’s words – and Lobsang Sangay’s reply – indicate that something is happening behind the scenes?

Take a look at what Lobsang Sangay really said during his speech :

On the eve of his escape to India in 1959, His Holiness the Dalai Lama had three dreams. The first one was of bloodshed. And soon after, during the invasion of Tibet and the occupation by China soon after, as many as a million Tibetans died.

The Dalai Lama’s second dream was about him meeting people in white. And sure enough, said Sangay, when the Dalai Lama arrived in Bomdila in Arunachal Pradesh on March 31, 1959, he met Indians wearing white clothes. Jawaharlal Nehru and Rajendra Prasad, who he met soon after, were wearing white khadi.

The Dalai Lama’s third dream, Lobsang Sangay said, was of him returning to the Potala palace filled with light and “reunited with Tibetan people.”

“This third dream will also come true by karmic design. We must all make efforts for His Holiness’ dream to return to the Potala palace come true,” Sangay added.

Jyoti Malhotra tweets @jomalhotra

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