Thursday, April 23, 2009

India wary of Maoist hegemony in Nepal, calls envoy for talks

India wary of Maoist hegemony in Nepal, calls envoy for talks

India on Thursday called its ambassador to Nepal, Rakesh Sood, for urgent consultations in a step designed to protest against Prachanda regime's creeping effort to supplant the country's fledgling democracy with a Maoist hegemony. India, which had tried to downplay its concern over the Maoists' attempt to monopolize power, was forced to register the protest after the Maoists' stubborn push for control over all institutions of the country. Sood was learnt to be part of a group of envoys — including those from the US, UK, China and others — who called on the Nepalese PM on Thursday morning to protest against the growing political discord in the country. Though the Maoists have been at it for some time, refusing to abide by the rules of democracy which they invoked to justify their bid for power, what brought matters to boil was Prachanda's proposal to sack General Rukmangad Katawal after he resisted the move to induct former Maoist guerrillas in the army. The prospect of guerrillas in the army has scared all political parties, already smarting under the Maoists going back on their word to disarm the fighters. While the Maoist government let it be known that US and Indian pressure had stopped the induction, the decision was also opposed by all political parties including the president. Of the 24 political parties represented in the Constituent Assembly, 16 opposed the government move. Hence the deferred decision. At any rate, the government's showcause to Katawal has served also to weaken him to the extent that he will be rendered ineffective, said Indian military sources. In other words, he's toast, no matter how you look at it. The UN mission in Nepal will wrap up its mandate in July, which is about the time that Katawal will legitimately retire. The PLA-Nepal army integration could therefore only be a matter of time. With him will also go the slender buffer that India had set up between a Maoist-dominated democracy and a Maoist-dominated dictatorship. This is India's primary worry, and the real reason for its objections to Katawal's sack — that Prachanda might be headed in that direction.


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