Upendra Yadav is a man on a mission. Over the weekend, the former foreign minister described India as the main obstacle to solution of the two-decade long Bhutanese refugee problem. The chairman of the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (MJF) also threw in his lot with the Maoists and emphasized the urgency of extending the tenure of United Nations Mission in Nepal.
You have to hand it to the ex-Maoist lawyer. He has come closer than any former foreign minister in identifying the crux of the Bhutanese refugee problem, as far as Nepal is concerned. Citing Bhutanese insincerity, Yadav said, India always chose to remain silent whenever the Nepalese government sought its help in resolving the crisis. “So, Nepal alone cannot do anything to repatriate the refugees,” he said in a conversation with a Bhutanese delegation at his residence.
Yadav told the Bhutanese team that Nepal’s Madhesi people were in a better position than the traditional elite to empathize with the refugees, owing to their “similar suppression” from those in power. He assured the Bhutanese team that he would raise their concerns with caretaker Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal and other leaders. What kind of reassurance that must have instilled in his interlocutors in our own tottering times is best left to the imagination. Still, it was an act of boldness on the part of the MJF leader.
He was no less audacious in directing his attention to UNMIN. The mission’s role was still relevant, Yadav averred, as the country was not yet free from the danger of conflict. Though reborn as a republic, some anti-republic forces were actively working to fulfill their motives, he claimed. Considering his recent own dalliances around that five-star hotel in front of the former palace, Maila Baje is forced to wonder what exactly he has in mind. But, then, you cannot discount the import of that assertion precisely because of Yadav’s motions.
In any case, not everything he said should inspire cynicism. Pointing to the threats of conflict from a number of armed outfits operating especially in the Eastern and the Terai regions, Yadav said UNMIN could play a role in roping these groups into the mainstream of peace.
If you think Yadav exudes the kind of confidence any incumbent foreign minister should, there may be a good reason. He probably rues the fact that by this time he would have returned to the job under a Pushpa Kamal Dahal government, were it not for Indian obstructionism. So even if you think his comments on Bhutan and UNMIN sounded more like they were meant for audiences across the southern border, at least try not to tune them out. Not just yet.