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Asia

India's behind-the-scenes role in Nepal

Madhav Kumar Nepal has resigned in a bid to resolve the ongoing political crisis and save the peace process. He had been under pressure to resign since his party made a power-sharing deal with the Maoists last month.

Nepal's Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal resigned on Wednesday after just over a year in office

Nepal's Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal resigned on Wednesday after just over a year in office

After resisting a year-long fierce battle by the Maoists to topple his coalition government, Nepal's embattled Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal resigned on Wednesday. This means that a new session of parliament can start next week without obstruction by the former guerrillas.

Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-M) party chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, or Prachanda as he his popularly known, had said that the main obstruction to the implementation of a three-point deal was not the Nepali Congress or the Communist Party Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML), but "foreign forces".

By foreign forces, Prachanda was clearly referring to India with which Nepal's Maoists have lately become very impatient, accusing it of meddling in the country's internal affairs and trying to derail the peace process.

Maoist ex-rebel chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal has blamed India of meddling in Nepal's internal affairs

Maoist ex-rebel chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal has blamed India of meddling in Nepal's internal affairs

He also accused Nepal's ruling parties of being puppets of the Indian ruling class.

India' s role is "constructive" says former diplomat

Lalit Mansingh, a former Indian diplomat and foreign secretary, rejected the accusations. "India's role has been very constructive but behind the scenes, "he said.

"And this continues to be the policy of the government, not to be too intrusive because we know the sensitivities that are involved and the accusations of India's interference and all that. Fortunately, the government is playing a low-key and constructive role."

An elderly Nepalese woman stands in front of closed shops in Kathmandu, Nepal, during a general strike called by the Maoists in May

An elderly Nepalese woman stands in front of closed shops in Kathmandu, Nepal, during a general strike called by the Maoists in May

New Delhi is Kathmandu's biggest supplier of essential goods, including gasoline. Although there exists a possibility that Nepal's northern reaches could one day extend the country’s economic linkages to China, the majority of all trade flows are to and from India in the south.

"India would certainly not approve of the Maoists in Nepal continuing to use violence as a means to achieve their ideological objective," explained K V. Rajan, a former Indian ambassador to Nepal.

"In fact, it would like the Maoists in Nepal to show their sincere commitment to multi-party democracy in a way they have not been able to do so far. They would like the Maoists in Nepal to show a sincere commitment to give up violence."

He added that India's real wish was that progress be made on drawing up a constitution.

Differences between Indian and Nepali Maoist movements

In India's eastern provinces, New Delhi is currently facing a Maoist insurgency, and seems more concerned with its own internal security after an unrelenting wave of attacks by the leftist extremist rebels in recent months than with shoring up Nepal's political dynamic.

"So far as the Maoist question is concerned, our view is that we have to deal with it as our national problem," said Mansingh. "While there may be an ideological linkage, I don't think the Nepali Maoist situation and our Naxal situation are that linked. These are two distinct issues, and they have to be dealt with as such."

Supporters of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) had been urging the prime minister's resignation for months

Supporters of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) had been urging the prime minister's resignation for months

Though Madhav Kumar Nepal's resignation now paves the way for the House to convene a new session, the turbulent Himalayan nation's troubles are not likely to be over for some time.

A new battle is feared over his successor and there are cracks among the former Maoist guerrillas as Prachanda's leadership is challenged by his deputies.

Author: Murali Krishnan (New Delhi)
Editor: Anne Thomas

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