Nepali Times
Headline
Keep door open


PRASHANT JHA in NEW DELHI


KONG YEN LIN
OPEN SESAME: Children wait for a film show in Sandhikharka recently.
There is a great deal of confusion in India about the political confusion in Nepal, but officials here say they want the Maoists to "reform internally" and support the Madhav Nepal government.

Sections of the Indian establishment concede Nepal's government suffers a legitimacy crisis. They insist that the process must move forward in the present framework.

"You cannot start undermining a government as soon as it is formed. They deserve a chance. These parties represent the middle ground of Nepali politics and must be strengthened," a top policymaker in New Delhi told Nepali Times this week.

The Indian support was expressed when Manmohan Singh met Madhav Nepal on the sidelines of the NAM summit on Thursday. Madhav Nepal, who was supposed to visit India on his way to Egypt, postponed it for 18-20 August. India sees it as a goodwill visit but expects little to progress on the bilateral front.

"Not an inch has moved on any of the hydropower projects," said an official, "there is just no interest and energy from the Nepal side."

Indian officialdom wants the government now try to get the political process back on track. India is learnt to have told Madhav Nepal to "keep the doors open" for the Maoists and constantly engage with them.

"We are also in conversation with Maoists, and do not want to push them out. We have to do business with them," said the official.

However, Delhi feels that the onus lies on the former rebels to "prove their commitment to democratic norms, moderate their ambitions, and join this government".

Security agencies have also been concerned about the truck that was carrying explosives from Jharkhand to Nepal and was nabbed by the Bihar Police in mid-June and fear sections of the Maoists have still not given up plans of an armed revolt.

India claims it is committed to the peace and constitution writing process and will not back any right wing alternative. Delhi has made it clear that it does not see any reason why General Katawal should get an extension. A senior official dismissed talk of army coup or army-backed presidential rule as "wild fantasies which India will never support".

At a time when there is speculation here about the Indian Army being used against India's Maoists, Delhi's defence establishment has taken a hardline against Maoist fighters being accommodated into the Nepal Army.

Defence minister Bidya Bhandari will be visiting India next week to discuss integration issues with the Indian defence establishment. Said one senior official: "At best, we can talk about individual level entry of some, but the Nepal Army's structure cannot be changed. That is the bottom-line."

READ ALSO:
India confused by Nepal's confusion - FROM ISSUE #460 (17 JULY 2009 - 23 JULY 2009)
Audacity to hope - FROM ISSUE #460 (17 JULY 2009 - 23 JULY 2009)



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