Krishna faces steep odds in Nepal

External Affairs Minister Somanahalli Mallaiah Krishna,who reached Kathmandu today on a three day trip to Nepal, reiterated India’s commitment for a democratic and stable Nepal.

In a statement he said that “I would like to convey to the leadership of Nepal that India is committed to working with the people of Nepal for a democratic, stable, peaceful and prosperous Nepal”.

Krishna’s second visit to the Himalyan state, second in the last one year, comes at a time when Nepal is facing deep political crisis and rising tide of anti India protest by the Maoists.

This is the first visit by any Indian Minister after the election of Jhalanath Khanal as the Prime Minister of Nepal. The trip also comes at a time when the the newly elected Prime Minister is facing a stiff challenge not only from within his own party Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist) but also from the ,Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist),the supporting party.

Despite being in the power for the last two months the Prime Minister has not been able to expand his cabinet to its full strength.

On top of that the most important task of drafting a new Constitution has to be completed by the end of May. Despite several extension no consensus has emerged among the political parties regarding the form of government and nature of federalism.

Maoists blame India for instability and deepening crisis in the former kingdom. Maoist Chief Puspa Kamal Dahal or Prachanda, blames India for his displacement from the Premier’s seat when he came into conflict with the Nepal’s Army Chief.

He blames India for backing army chief General Rookmangud Katawal against former Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal or Prachanda in 2009 in an attempt to keep its influence there.

Besides India is also supposed to be behind blocking Prachanda’s successive bid to claim the post of Prime Minister.
There is this perception that Madhesi parties are acting at the behest of India and are one of the stumbling blocks in Maoists’ bid to power second time.

No wonder over the last few months Maoists have raised a banner of revolt against Indian joint venture companies and rising cases of extortion against Indian traders in Nepal. The ultra Left parties are also behind showing black flags to the Indian Ambassador to Kathmandu, Rakesh Sood.

In this situation India has to play a balancing role and look at the larger picture. The big brother has to make sure that all the political parties work together and the Constituent Assembly does not die without drafting a new Constitution.

Besides for any long lasting relations with Nepal it is important to take Maoist into confidence which has the largest number of seats in the Assembly.

India played a constructive role in 2006 by brokering a peace between Maoists and the mainstream political parties,that brought the end of monarchy.

The External Affairs Minister will be visiting Birgunj near the Indian border, where India has a consulate. He will also inaugurate an integrated check post built with Indian assistance besides laying the foundation of the Terai Fast Track Road project.