Kathmandu, July 12: Maoists in Nepal promised to take care of India’s security concerns if the armed rebels succeed in wresting power, but said Delhi’s continued support to the palace was “morally untenable”.
“India’s main concern in Nepal is over its security. We want to assure India that when we come to power, we will safeguard its security concerns,” Maoist spokesperson Krishna Bahadur Mahara said in an interview.
“In the present Nepalese establishment, some are Pakistan’s ISI agents while others are working for the Americans. We don’t want to be pawns in anybody’s hands. But once we come to power, we will ensure that all anti-Indian activities from Nepalese soil come to a complete halt.”
Mahara’s statement reflects a fundamental shift. Till a few years ago, the main plank of the Maoists was built around an anti-Indian stand. In a charter, they described India as an imperialistic power with hegemonistic tendencies towards Nepal.
But growing American presence and involvement in Nepal after September 11, 2001, have, perhaps, made them realise that they will not be able to take on both the US and India. Still, their assurance on India’s security concerns has never been this categorical.
However, going by the initial reaction of Indian officials, Delhi does not seem impressed by the assurance of the Maoist leader, who also criticised India for its continued support to King Gyanendra.
“India’s support to the palace is not morally tenable. Is there monarchy in India' If India decided to do away with monarchy decades back, why is it supporting the palace in Nepal'” Mahara argued.
India’s stated policy has been that constitutional monarchy and democracy are the two pillars on which Nepal’s security and stability rest.
Mahara pointed out that Nepal lacked even a constitutional monarchy. The rebel leader, part of the Maoist team negotiating with the government, stressed that a political solution was needed through dialogue to solve the impasse between Kathmandu and the rebels, who have been trying to topple the monarchy. The two sides have been observing a ceasefire since January.
Mahara said the palace was split on the issue of negotiating a settlement with the Maoists. “Those who favour a peaceful solution to the problem are in the minority. It is the hardliners in support of the army and favouring a military solution who seems to have the upper hand,” he added.
According to the Maoists, King Gyanendra is under the control of the Nepalese Army, which, in turn, is taking instructions from the Americans, who, in the name of fighting global terrorism, are pushing for a military solution. “It is the Nepalese Army which is calling the shots and the king is just a powerless bystander,” Mahara said.
He said though informal consultations were on, the Maoists were suspicious of the army’s role. He claimed that in the name of conducting health camps in rural areas, the armed forces were trying to find out details about Maoist leaders and activists. “All indications suggest that they are preparing for a confrontation,” Mahara said.
The Maoists are of the view that the king should adopt an “equidistant” policy like King Birendra, who was killed in a palace massacre. “He may not have been a democrat, but he was definitely a liberal. He tried his best to find a political solution and for nearly six years did not send the army to confront us,” the Maoist leader said. “Perhaps, that is the reason (why) he was killed.”
Mahara made it clear that the rebels wanted to improve relations with all countries, including the US. “But for this, the Americans will have to change their policy towards us. If they continue to push for an aggressive policy and support a military solution, then we will also put up a stiff fight and resist their designs,” he said.
For a political solution to the stalemate, the Maoists want the king to convene an all-party meeting. Democratic political parties, they feel, are in no position to break the deadlock.
“They are caught up in looking for a solution within the existing constitution of Nepal. But to look for a lasting solution, we need to go beyond. And for this, we are willing to discuss the issue with all the forces in the country,” Mahara said.