Friday, December 02, 2005

Prakash Koirala And Politics of Candor

You can’t talk any straighter than Prakash Koirala, at least when it comes to the latest twist in Nepalese politics.

Most Nepalis see India written all over the recent agreement between the seven parties and the Maoist rebels.

King Gyanendra’s minister for environment, science and technology strikes right at the heart of the matter. He insists New Delhi was impelled to forge a united front against the palace after Nepal unveiled a new foreign-policy thrust at the SAARC Summit.

Using more precise language, he describes the agreement as part of India’s effort to keep Nepal within its sphere of influence.

The eldest son of Nepal’s first elected prime minister has been consistent in his views. Fifteen years ago, he drew much criticism for having opposed the People’s Movement. His contention that India would use the unnatural alliance forged between the Nepali Congress and communist factions to foster perpetual instability to preserve its primacy was vindicated by subsequent events.

Maila Baje long wondered how Prakash Koirala and his equally forthright actress daughter Manisha could end up supporting the palace.

King Mahendra’s takeover in December 1960, after all, inflicted untold hardship on the Koirala household. As B.P. languished in prison for eight years, his wife, Sushila, and children must have agonized endlessly trying to figure out what crimes could have brought such punishment.

With India having provided shelter and succor to his family for so long, how could Prakash Koirala bring himself to criticize that country’s policies with such vehemence? In retrospect, the answer was always there.

Prakash Koirala has lived through India’s double game in Nepal. When it served its interests, India encouraged the Nepali Congress to rise up in armed insurrection against the palace. When New Delhi saw virtue in compromising with the king, it wouldn’t even allow the Nepali Congress to bring out its official newsletter.

During Indira Gandhi’s emergency, B.P. Koirala – by then in exile after King Mahendra released him from prison -- was living under virtual house arrest in the Niti Bagh section of the Indian capital.

At least Narayanhity was candid about its dislike of the Koiralas.