Sunday, January 30, 2011

Contingency, Irony And The Presidency

It must have been somewhat uneasy for President Ram Baran Yadav to have to leave on a visit to India on January 27. Wouldn’t he have loved to reach the Indian capital in time for the Republic Day Parade as the chief guest the previous morning?
And what could have provided India’s clearest imprimatur on the most conspicuous novelty of a new Nepal. But others cannot be expected to be guided by uninhibited definitiveness when we are pinching ourselves all over to see if things are happening for real. Conversely, did the timing of Yadav’s departure contain any subtle meaning? 
With Nepali parties still struggling to form a government, Yadav might have stayed back to supervise things. The Maoists, according to party chief and prime ministerial contender Pushpa Kamal Dahal, are wedged between reactionaries and revisionists.
Another aspirant, CPN-UML chairman Jhal Nath Khanal sees Nepal itself caught between local and foreign reactionaries. The factional realignments in the UML are more than matched by those in the Nepali Congress.
Caretaker Premier Madhav Kumar Nepal indicts so-called ‘tail’ leaders – i.e., those willing to be led by other parties – as the problem. But his deputy, Bijay Kumar Gachchadar sees the Big Three as principal barriers.
Notwithstanding the reunions and reminiscences in Kolkata and Chandigarh, Yadav is certainly not abdicating his responsibility. Hastily given partial official status, the presidential visit is expected to feature deliberations on Nepal’s checkered peace process.
The departure of a Nepal Army team to India around at the same time could not be entirely unrelated to the Yadav agenda. The inputs provided by a low-key military delegation, regardless of the venue and mode, could provide an inkling of a presidential regime’s ability to handle any new situation.
No, Maila Baje doesn’t think the overriding concern relates to an inability to promulgate the new constitution. The Indians seem to believe that can be taken care of, one way or the other. The specter of Chinese-inspired subversion deep inside India through Nepal it what has taken precedence. The arrest of three alleged Chinese spies who slipped over from Nepal continues to fuel media speculation. Photographs in the possession of a Chinese lady presenting herself as a journalist seem to link Nepal to Indian insurgencies.
And now the Indians have begun boldly declaring that Ugyen Trinley Dorje, the man we know for his daring escape from Tibet to India via Nepal in the winter of 2000-2001, may not be the 14th Karmapa Lama, but a Chinese plant. Although that line of reasoning persisted from the outset, New Delhi was hitherto unwilling to ascribe to Beijing the wisdom of effecting such perfect deception.
In retrospect, that war-in-2012 drumbeat we heard over a year ago was sounded by those who were itching for one. The 50th anniversary of India’s humiliating defeat at the hands of China would be a fitting occasion to exact revenge. And, since Nepal knows how taking no sides would be perceived as taking one by one of the putative belligerents, it would matter if the war is hot or cold.
As for the Republic Day celebrations, the foreign guest invited the greatest number of times from the neighborhood remains the king of Bhutan, Jigme Dorje in 1955, and his son, Jigme Singye, in 1984, and 2005. Regardless of how fact that makes President Yadav feel, it surely does make a lot of Nepalis feel much better.