By Maila Baje
So it eventually had to come to this.
A decade after triumphing in their ‘people’s war’, Baburam Bhattarai is accusing Pushpa Kamal Dahal of betraying the nation in order to maintain his grip on power by signing a despicable agreement with India during his recent trip down south.
Bhattarai said the 25-point communiqué was so bad that he could not sleep the whole night after Prime Minister Dahal made it public. “This anti-nationalist agreement … is tormenting me,” the former chief ideologue of the Maoists said at a public gathering the other day.
Bhattarai’s party, Naya Shakti Nepal, went further, calling the communiqué ‘an act of treason’ that threatened to push the country towards regression. Point 11 in particular would lead to the ‘Bhutanization’ of Nepal, the party concluded.
Now, Bhattarai has a penchant for throwing around terms like ‘Sikkimization’ and ‘Bhutanization’ with abandon, almost to the point of deflection.
After describing the 2001 palace massacre as a conspiracy to turn Nepal into an Indian dependency a la its two other Himalayan cousins, Bhattarai soon began wooing the Hindu nationalist government in New Delhi with unspecified promises and pledges.
By mid-2005, after King Gyanendra seized full executive powers amid a change of government in New Delhi, Bhattarai almost singlehandedly thwarted a Nepal-based solution that might have worked better. So much so that sections of the Indian establishment were irked by the way Bhattarai was hobnobbing with Indian commies to precipitate a radical reorientation of India’s Nepal policy.
After Bhattarai prevailed in pushing Nepal into nebulous newness, it was natural for us to expect him to begin work on expanding Nepal’s space for independent and sovereign action. But, then, what could he do with that puny finance portfolio, right?
As prime minister, Bhattarai wasn’t too keen on reversing the Sugauli Agreement-era stranglehold of India he had so railed against. He left for an official visit to New Delhi promising not to sign BIPPA, but came back having done just that.
During the Teheran Non-Aligned summit, he snuck out to meet with his Indian counterpart without giving his deputy, and fellow Maoist, Narayan Kaji Shrestha, and inkling. And who can forget the wholesale mismanagement that gripped the brief visit by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao?
None of this, of course, means that Bhattarai isn’t entitled to revise his position. Maybe he should come out with a full-blown self-criticism of his approach to and expectations from India beginning from his Jawaharlal University days. Identifying people, places and perspectives would be extremely helpful.
Nepalis know that India doesn’t need to ‘Sikkimize’ or ‘Bhutanize’ our nation. New Delhi has mounted a fairly successful ‘Nepalization’ operation with no small assistance from politicos like Bhattarai and ploys like the 12 Point Agreement.
Prime Minister Dahal doesn’t seem particularly stung by Bhattarai’s accusations, does he?
The wages of crying wolf
By Maila Baje