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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Prachanda blames India for Nepal's political crisis

TIMES OF INDIA



KATHMANDU: Wrapping up a three-day nationwide general strike at a victory rally in the capital Tuesday, Nepal’s Maoist supremo Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda warned it was also the announcement of a fourth protest movement against the government that would culminate in an indefinite general strike from Jan 24.

In the past, the Maoists had enforced a 15-day blockade during the 10-year “People’s War” and a 19-day peaceful general shutdown in 2006 as part of the pro-democracy movement against King Gyanendra’s attempt to rule the country with the help of the army. Prachanda said the new protests would start from Christmas Day as a mass awareness campaign to open people’s eyes to the presence of “foreign agents” in their midst. He also said the campaign would expose the corrupt indicted in the Rayamajhi Commission that was formed after the fall of the royal regime. Though the commission was formed to punish the perpetrators of the anti-people coup, including the king, its report was never made public.

The nearly two-hour rally in Naya Baneshwor - that was the site of violent clashes between protesters and security forces Sunday - saw Prachanda, for the first time throwing a direct challenge to India, accusing it of naked intervention in Nepal’s internal matters. “I held talks with the Nepali Congress (NC) leaders but they produced no result,” the former revolutionary said with biting sarcasm. “I held talks with the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (UML), the Prime Minister... But none produced results. Now I have to go to Delhi for talks.”

Prachanda reminded his audience that in the years after 2002, when King Gyanendra had sacked Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and propped up three successive governments of his own choosing, the then governments had asked the underground Maoists to declare a ceasefire and start dialogue. “But we had refused, saying we will not negotiate with the servants,” he said. “We said we will talk only with the master. It is now time to say the same thing.”

The Maoist chief alleged that New Delhi had propped up Nepal’s coalition government, which was a “puppet” and a “robot” in its hands. When Nepali Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal returned from the UN climate summit in Copenhagen, Prachanda said the government did not project Nepal’s interests abroad but only tried to project that Indian premier Manmohan Singh had expressed his support for it as well as the Chinese government. “The Maoists are not NC or UML,” he said. “Treat the Maoists as Maoists.”

The new Maoist anger with New Delhi was stoked afresh last week after Nepal’s army chief Gen Chhatraman Singh Gurung went to India at the invitation of the Indian Army chief, Gen Deepak Kapoor, to receive the traditional honour of being declared general of the Indian Army by Indian President Pratibha Patil.

During the visit, at a banquet hosted by the Nepali general, Gen Kapoor was reported as saying that he opposed the merger of the Maoists’ People’s Liberation Army with the Nepal Army as that would lead to the politicisation of the latter. “The comprehensive peace agreement (that ended the Maoist insurgency in 2006) promises the integration,” Prachanda said. “Kapoor's statement was a naked intervention in Nepal’s internal matters and yet the corrupt ministers of the current government remained silent.”

Prachanda said that at a time his party was striving to restore civilian supremacy in Nepal by campaigning against the President, Dr Ram Baran Yadav, who had resurrected the possibility of another military coup by preventing his government from sacking the insubordinate army chief, it was clear that civilian supremacy was actually murdered in New Delhi.

The Maoists have laid down a five-point agenda for their talks with India. They have also announced a month-long campaign from Dec 25, after which, they have warned of an indefinite nationwide general strike from Jan 24.

Maoist agenda for talks with India


- All unequal treaties should be scrapped, including the 1950 Peace and Friendship Treaty; all secret treaties have to be revealed

- All border disputes have to be resolved; India has to recall troops from Nepal’s Kalapani area

- Trade deficit with India has to be corrected

- India should enact prompt strategy to make Nepal gain from being sandwiched between the world’s two fastest growing economies

- India has to accept Nepal as an equal state.

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