Saturday, June 20, 2015

Hard Bargain Or Soft Sell?

From the scorn they have heaped on the Supreme Court for having stayed implementation of the 16-Point Agreement, you could be forgiven for thinking that the four major parties were actually on the verge of promulgating the constitution this time.
The surprise June 8 deal had generated a generally upbeat vibe, especially among those most intent to underscore the relevance of the frayed 12-Point Agreement that set forth our nine-year journey into nebulous newness.
India, however, was said to have been displeased by the surprise the Big Four sprung on us. If so, New Delhi did a good job of hiding its feelings, because it took Nepali analysts a few days to see signs of annoyance.
Now, if New Delhi was indeed miffed by its apparent displacement from the driver’s seat, what better way to express itself than through the Supreme Court? More importantly, though, why should India want to scuttle a new constitution that would have marked the culmination of the 2005 Delhi Compromise?
Granted, the rulers in New Delhi today represent a different political ideology than the one espoused by the regime that forged the Maoist-mainstream opposition against the monarchy. But, as the largest opposition then, those at the helm in India today did go along with the myths spun then, didn’t they?
So could India’s supposed irritation stem from a discovery that it was leading from behind in Nepal, as in the case of the creation of the Jhal Nath Khanal government a few years ago? Prime Minister Narendra Modi must have taken it personally that Nepal became the first neighbor to burn his effigy, and that, too, after having mounted a rescue and relief operation.
The open secret before the Great Earthquake was that India was engaging in negotiations with the former king, who had pitched his tent in New Delhi for an extended stay. Just before the devastation, too, a leading Chinese expert on Nepal had ruled out the restoration of monarchy in any shape, manner or form, in what was by far the most candid articulation of Beijing’s feelings on an institution we all believed it had nurtured and sustained.
The Bharatiya Janata Party, according to some reports, had resurrected the terms India had presented Kings Birendra and Gyanendra in 1990 and 2006 respectively in exchange for a restoration of the monarchy.
Despite the much-hyped alignment between Beijing and New Delhi on matters concerning Nepal, could the Chinese have acted in concert with other powers seeking to thwart a return of the monarchy and sprung up the 16-Point Agreement?
Or did elements within India, deliberately or otherwise, seek to undo a deal in such a way that would pile pressure not only on the former king but the ruling and opposition parties as well? In that case, the Supreme Court’s intervention may have bought New Delhi the time to identify the best deal.
But if we really want to be hopeful, this could also be a chance for Nepalis to secure the best bargain geostrategically possible.