ASIA CENTRE BANGALORE
Mr. A.P. Venkateshwaran Former Foreign Secretary
Mr. Peter Sinai IFS (retd)
Lt. Gen (Retd.) Ravi Eipe
Support Asia Centre
1843 First Floor, 6th Cross, 20th Main, J.P Nagar, Bangalore Karnataka 560078, India;
Call: (+91 80) 26595150, 26593689
Seminar Summary Reports
"A Historical Perceptive" by Amb. Akbar Mirza Khaleeli "A Strategic perspective" byVice Admiral (Retd) P J Jacob "A Media perspective" by Shri Kesava Menon.
"A Security Assessment" by B. Raman
"The Current Scenario" by Shri K V Rajan, IFS (Retd)
"Implications for India" by Maj. Gen (Retd. Ashok K. Mehta
"Current Situation and its import" by Shri Gururaj Rao
"The Political Scenario" by Dr. Arvind Kumar
"Analysis of Political events" by Dr. Smruti Pattanaik
"Implications for India" by Maj. Gen (Retd.) Dipankar Banerjee
"Strategic Analysis and Opinions "by Maj. Gen (Retd.) Ashok K. Mehta
" Vision and Reality" by Ambassador Shri Rajiv Sikri (Retd)
" Historical Perceptive and Current Realities"
"Defence Cooperation Aspects" by
"A strategic review" by Dr. Brahma Chellaney
" A historic perspective"
"India's options in the global senario" by
"Indo-US core interests" by
Look East Policy
" India's Look-East Policy: Vision and Reality" by Ambassador Shri C.V Ranganathan (Retd)
" Impediments to India’s Look-East
Policy – China’s Reservations and Suggested
"Maritime Aspects of our Look-East Policy" by
Four months after the historic elections in
The likely scenario may well be a façade
of democracy and collapsing governance, a breakdown of law and order, with
serious implications for
The holding of the April 10
election was undoubtedly an achievement in itself.
It opened up the possibility of a new, inclusive, democratic
The Maoists have come into the
mainstream. It is a unique
example of an extreme left insurgency which has turned to democratic means.
It is unlikely that the Maoists will take to the jungle again. They
are now locked into the democratic process.
The April 10 election, though
flawed, was credible enough and relatively free of violence, belying many
fears to the contrary.
The transition to the Republic
has been peaceful, with Gyanendra refraining from resisting the popular
call for an end to the monarchy.
The election result is
certainly a mandate for change:
The Maoists have won emphatic victory, although short of a
Madhesis have become a new power centre, with their men in the 4th,
5th and 6th places in the new Constituent Assembly.
Most of the old leaders from mainstream parties, including the
Koirala family, have been rejected.
The monarchy is also rejected, even in a ceremonial role.
The CA is the most inclusive body in
The Maoists are showing flexibility on several issues in response to
demands by other parties.
Four months after election,
the government was not yet formed.
The election results tend to
paralyse government and the process of constitution-making.
The Maoists won 220 of the 575
seats, more than combined total of the NC and the UML (213), but the
Maoists are at the mercy of other parties in the sense that if the latter
act as spoilers (which they clearly wish to do) they can block decisions.
Political leaders tend to
bypass the CA, indulging in horse-trading out of personal ambition or party
Overall, a culture of impunity
and violence prevails. The much touted “New Nepal” is currently a
republic of uncertainty, and may well become republic of fear.
Mistrust among the political leaders and parties; political
opportunism, shifting alliances, absence of leaders with vision and
underpinnings; politicised bureaucracy, demoralised police, the unpopular
army and partisan media.
The election of the President, the Vice
President and the Speaker came about after prolonged bargaining and
horse-trading. This does not
inspire confidence, as both the President (a NC-Madhesi candidate) and the
Vice President (an official candidate of the Madhesi parties) lack
credibility. The election result was due to the determined bid by the other
parties to keep the Maoists out.
The core issue of security management was
left unaddressed. The Army is unwilling to accept both the integration of
Maoist cadres and the “democratisation” move for the intake of Madhesis.
The higher political profile of the Army Chief, encouraged by G.P. Koirala,
not a good sign.
The main concern is not so much the
integration of Maoist guerillas as the proposal for compulsory military
training and periodic refresher courses for every Nepali adult.
jury is still out. Many of their actions and statements do not inspire
confidence that they have decisively given up violence and intimidation.
On present evidence, it seems that they may
have changed their strategy and tactics, but not their ideological goals.
The Maoists themselves emphasise that their
success is due to the “fusion of ballot and bullet”, and insist that
they have not abandoned armed struggle.
They do not regret their past violence;
they rationalise their present violence. The activities of the Youth
Communist League clearly indicate that the Maoist want to retain their
parallel police to enforce their will.
The Maoists’ dilemma: their desire to
lead the government and occupy key posts, although aware that parliamentary
arithmetic will not enable them to deliver on promises. Hence
their frequent threats to stay out of the government unless their terms are
Recourse to non-democratic methods must be
corrected, perhaps in concert with other countries.
The Maoists are the only party with a clear
agenda, motivation, strategic thinking, organizational strength, discipline
and leadership.They will probably adopt all means to ensure their sweeping
victory in the next election two years hence.
Internal divisions in the Maoist party
notwithstanding, there is no serious threat to its party discipline and
Maoist demands, such as the revision of
Nepal-India Treaty of 1950, ending Gurkha recruitment to the Indian Army,
on water resources, and regulating open border, should be taken seriously,
even if the Maoists do not press them for some time due to their
preoccupations with consolidating political power.
The Maoists will not directly provoke
Their success will embolden Indian
Naxalites to emulate their example: to use violence until the state is
discredited and abdicates its responsibilities, then give the impression of
joining mainstream competitive politics, but continue to promote their
ideological through a combination of democratic and undemocratic means.
Nepali Congress and the UML are demoralised and directionless. Both lack
inner party democracy (especially the NC)
and suffer from serious inter-party divisions.
Koirala’s age and
failing health should be matter of concern for the NC’s future. He
was evidently keen on continuing as Prime Minister, falsely implying
that he had
The MJF, the TMDP (widely believed to be
supported by India) and two
factions of the Sadbhavana Party have emerged as important power centres,
but they tend to overplay their hand, creating a backlash (e.g. their
demand for a Madhesi state, their winning the posts of both the President
and the Vice President, the Vice President taking the oath of office in
Hindi. One should not exaggerate the pro-India implications in Madhesi
posturing, though they can be an effective counterweight to the Maoists).
There is general goodwill for
However, there is
dissatisfaction in all parties because of unrealistic expectations that
There is a general perception
Indian moves on future
political crisis situations, the integration of the PLA in the Nepal Army
and in Madhesi issues will be closely watched;
The “Special relationship”
as defined in the 1950 Treaty is already dead; and mega-hydel projects are
most unlikely to take off because of increasingly nationalistic posturing
by the Maoists.
The principle of
‘responsibility to protect’, if invoked with sensitivity and concern
for well-being of
India’s priorities should
be: effective management of Nepal’s sensitivity as a small, landlocked
country; economic inter-dependence; and integration, especially through
sub-regional projects involving Nepal’s Terai and the adjacent Indian
States; avoiding visible dependence on the power centre of the day but
dealing transparently with Nepal as a nation, so that there is a strong
popular support for Indian policies; anticipating and defusing
misunderstandings before they became irritants; adopting a low profile
diplomacy which gives sense of security to all political actors, especially
in the present unstable situation.
By Maj Gen (Retd) Ashok Mehta,
recalled his numerous and extensive visits to
The questions arising for us from the
1) Can we trust the Maoists?
We must wait to find out.
2) Can the old
3) Will China and
The Nepalese are keen on building up their
country anew. It is a work in
progress, though they did have some starting trouble.
The people’s war by the Maoists has
achieved its main objective. The
election of the Constituent Assembly is a triumph for them.
Some Maoists even consider that their
struggle has ended prematurely with no storming of the palace.
It is the first time an underground rebel group has come to power
through elections and become the main parliamentary party.
It is also the first time the Madhesis and other ethnic groups have
secured significant positions. Outside
observers went wrong in predicting the results of the elections.
How to deal with the Maoist-led government?
is the question. It is not a
purely Maoist government. It
is worth noting that ten years of ‘people’s war’ could not achieve
what the 19-day ‘andolan’ (protest movement) did.
The Madhesis have also taken to their own ‘andolan’.
There was an intelligence failure on our
side in not foreseeing the victory of the Maoist wave.
The mood was changing: a claim that it was now their turn to rule.
Even ex-servicemen in
Coercion played a part in the Maoist
tactics. They also appealed to
the ‘sons of the soil’ sentiment.
They have been locked into the peace process by the people.
Madhesis have gained one-third of the
seats, though hitherto scorned as ‘dhotiwallahs’. Now
they have a power share. They
contribute 77 percent of the revenues of
Now a national government is needed until
the constitution is framed. Will
it turn into a presidential rule? There
are various possible combinations for a coalition.
An alliance of the leftist parties is one.
There will be a generational change when the older politicians are
The Maoist aim is to go for elections in
two and a half years and get a two-thirds majority.
The final objective is to transform
The Indian government has sponsored a
The leftward direction in
The Madhesis are a potential tinderbox.
Pahadis who come to the plains and settle in the plains could cause
friction. The Madhesis
proximity to UP and
He is currently Director (North), Ministry
of External Affairs; He previously served in the Indian Embassy,
The elections to the Constituent Assembly
The Maoists emerged as the single largest
party, securing 29% of the votes and 38% of the seats (226).
But they do not have a simple majority in the house.
The political parties of
During the peace process, Indian policy was
to engage with all the key political actors.
One big gain is that the Madhes now has a
voice in the Constituent Assembly which cannot be ignored.
The Madhesis have one third of the seats.
They form a new force in politics.
It is not clear how the new Nepalese
identity would be defined. It
could be based on a narrow cultural and linguistic aspect or a broader
sociological spread. The
people’s mandate and the trend of successive amendments to the
constitution have made Nepalese politics and institutions more inclusive.
Forming the Government.
After the post-election euphoria, the
election of the president and vice-president signified a big setback to
the Maoists. It shows the
increasing polarisation of politics and the fragility of the peace process
The fractured mandate of the Assembly
should enjoin all the parties to cooperate and form a government of
national unity. A government
based on a single party or an alliance would be short-lived and unstable.
The CPN-M as the largest party has earned the right to lead the
Hitherto the ruling elite in
Issues before the Government.
The big issue relates to the disposition of
the 19,000 armed Maoist combatants now quartered in camps.
The Maoists want them integrated with the Nepal Army, which, for
its part, is wary of its integrity being impaired thereby.
The other parties are also wary of it.
Regarding the Indo-Nepal Treaty, the new
The Maoists have spoken of ‘regulating’
Gurkha recruitment to the Indian Army has
been opposed by the Maoists. The
new government has to decide its policy on this issue.
If recruitment is stopped, the youth in
Geographical necessity and intense
people-to-people relations ensure that the two countries simply cannot
look away from each other.
70 percent of
There are high stakes in hydropower,
irrigation and flood control. Cooperation
in these areas could transform not only
After nearly five decades of politicised
mutual suspicion and distrust, a beginning has been made in this area of
We must make concerted efforts to engage
the Nepalese living in
There is a tremendous untapped potential
for a mutually rewarding partnership between the two countries.
It is for
The transition to a stable, democratic,
inclusive and peaceful polity in
The discussion began with three questions.
1) Whether there are Maoists among the recruited Gurkhas for our
army? 2) What would have
happened if the king had not agreed to go in the face of the general
demand for the end of the monarchy? 3)
Have the Maoists lost some relevance after their victory without a
Maj. Gen. Mehta said that the first turning point of the transition was the
palace massacre, which brought Gyanendra to the throne. One
of the possible scenarios at that time was to retain the monarchy, but in
a ceremonial form in the parliamentary system. He explained the different
categories of Gurkhas who were drawing pensions. Some of them were
sympathetic to the Maoists.
said that there is a convergence between the far left and the far right in
that both are nationalistic, pro-change and unfavorable to parliamentary
democracy. The loyalists
pressed King Birendra to consolidate powers within the palace elite.
To another question relating to
Prachanda’s interview to the Hindu, Shri Rajan replied that the Maoists
had a clear vision of socio-economic progress.
They want science education to be improved and
Maj. Gen. Mehta added that the Nepal Congress and the UML were overconfident
about the elections. The
Maoists controlled some 80 percent of the country and ran a parallel
government there. Local commissars under their control got the PLA cadres
to do social work in the villages, thereby securing votes for the Maoist
Rao said, in regard to Prachanda’s keenness to develop
took a question on
Rao recalled that
Raman said that
A member intervened to
Gonsalves suggested that
Khaleeli forecast problems for the Maoists in governing the country.
He added that
answered a question whether the Nepalese favoured the movement
demanding Gorkhaland in the north of
Maj. Gen. Mehta
added that Subhash Gheising was a respected figure and that a movement
for ‘Greater Nepal’ could pose a danger for us, with the large
Nepalese diaspora in
On Gurkha recruits,
Shri Rajan explained that they
had openings in the
Asia Centre’s previous
The prospects of the republic
are still unclear: the hopeful trend could continue, if the political
parties act responsibly to ensure a stable nation intent on building up
the prosperity of its people. In
this they can count on the ready assistance of friendly foreign partners,
All the four seminar speakers
The Chinese also have to keep
vigil on the Tibetans living in
The ethnic diversity of
Indian security has been affected by
Cooperation between the armed services and
the border security forces on both sides has to be given very high
priority. Here again, there
are gaps in our own coordination and capacity for internal consensus
building. We cannot afford our
army and the civil governmental departments concerned speaking in
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