India's election win good news for Nepal
By Bhumika GhimireColumn: Nepali in America
Published: May 18, 2009
Font size: West Lafayette, IN, United States, — The results of India’s elections show that the “saffron brigade” lead by the Bharatiya Janta Party has lost 18 seats in Parliament. The one-month election extravaganza that began on April 16 has handed a clear victory to the Congress party.
This will give Nepal time to work on its own internal matters quietly, while the BJP stands on the sidelines trying to understand the reason for the public's decision.
According to its election manifesto the BJP, a rightwing nationalist party, is committed to the protection of cows and the construction of a Hindu temple, the Ram Mandir, in Ayodhya, considered the birthplace of the god Rama. It is also committed to robust national security, among other "noble" goals.
The saffron party's commitment to cows and temples is surprising, considering its history of remaining silent during horrible communal riots between Muslims and Hindus in the state of Gujarat in the past. In fact, the chief minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi, a BJP shining star, has been accused of letting the riots go out of hand. Hundreds of innocent civilians were killed during the riots in 2002, but for the BJP cows and temples are more dear.
BJP-supported activists waged a war against tribal Christians in the state of Orissa, and their "glorious" activities are well documented by the international media, including the New York Times. They have singlehandedly politicized Hinduism and made the age-old religion of peace and tolerance a weapon to murder Muslims and other minorities. No surprise that many are pleased to see the BJP going down the drain.
In Nepal's context, the BJP coming to power would have meant increased interference in internal matters. I am not implying that having Congress lead the government in New Delhi has been a blessing, but it is much better than having to deal with the saffron brigade. They have never minced words in expressing their displeasure at Nepal turning secular, and their love for corrupt Shah kings is well known.
The BJP has successfully used and abused Hinduism in India for its narrow political goals. It would love to play the same game in Nepal. During the Pashupatinath row earlier this year – in which the Maoists kicked out Indian priests and replaced them with handpicked Nepali ones – their statements made it clear how eager they are to get into the business of politicizing religion in Nepal.
The BJP's "love" for Nepal's Maoists is also common knowledge. In June 2008 Jaswant Singh, the former external affairs minister and senior leader of the BJP, commented that "Maoist rule in Nepal is not good for India." He also suggested that Nepal’s becoming a secular state was a “negative development."
If the BJP ever did come to power in India, Nepal would find itself in serious trouble. The ongoing political crises in Nepal – be it the row over bringing Maoist guerrillas into the Nepali army or the sorry state of the Constitution writing process – will only empower New Delhi.
As it is, the BJP is not going to sit quietly and wait for things to happen its way. It is time for Nepal’s leaders to get serious and focus on preserving the national interest rather than engaging in their own political power grabs.
(Bhumika Ghimire is a freelance reporter. Her articles have been published at OhMyNews, NepalNews, Toward Freedom, Telegraph Nepal, Himal South Asian and ACM Ubiquity. She is also a regular contributor to News Front Weekly, in Kathmandu, and Nepal Abroad, in Washington D.C. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. ©Copyright Bhumika Ghimire.)