Vicissitudes of direction
Thanks to the formation of BJP government in India and the rise of Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister, the relations with Nepal showed a marked improvement. Prime Minister Modi's first visit to Nepal, in fact, sparked new hope and assurance in bringing the bilateral relations in the even keel. Prime Minister was reported to have told his administrators to bring matters only relating to security vis-à-vis Nepal to his notice. In rest of the matters, they should endorse whatever Nepal proposed. It was made possible mainly because of two factors – firstly, handling of the Nepal affairs at the political level as against the tradition established by the outgoing Indian government of leaving it to bureaucracy and security officials and secondly, personal religious and spiritual making of Prime Minister Modi. It was evident during his maiden visit to Nepal when he offered special puja to Lord Pashupatinath. He paid tributes to the Nepalese in restoring peace after a decade of armed insurgency all through his subsequent foreign visits. However, the euphoric days did not last long.
The declaration of the Nepal's new constitution was a shocker to the Indian leader, who was assured of discarding secularism in the new fundamental law of the land. But to the contrary of high-level assurances from Nepalese leaders like Puspa Kamal Dahal and Sher Bahadur Deuba and Krishna Bahadur Mahara to this effect, Nepal was declared a secular state for no rhyme or reason. It was only to satisfy those who had made a fat payment for that task. To camouflage secularism and assuage the Indian objections, the constitution carried out a sub-clause stating that secularism would not come in the way of strengthening the traditional religious practices subsisting in Nepal. Nonetheless, Nepal was proclaimed as secular in bold letters keeping the footnote rejoinder in unnoticeable small letters. That changed the basic attitude of Prime Minister Modi and, as a result, the Indian leadership gave in to the same old bureaucracy and security outfit in deciding the Nepal affairs and the bilateral relations nosedived.
On the part of Nepal, the government and the political leadership is too weak to understand the political and psychological change in India and indulged in hurting and lying to the Indian leaders. It was evident in passing the new constitution of Nepal and the subsequent development in internal agitation and the economic blockade that followed to the detriment of the wishes and interests of both the countries. Nepal indeed made a blunder of declaring Nepal 'secular' firstly by hoodwinking the Nepalese people as well as the Indian leaders. They even bulldozed in abolishing the monarchy, which was neither a commitment made in the 12-point agreement nor in the accord made between the king and the agitating leaders in the presence of Indian special envoy, Mr. Karan Singh to Nepal at the height of the anti-king movement in 2006. As a result of these unsavory changes in the political events in Nepal, it is still suffering from endless instability, chaotic situation, and potentially multi-pronged conflicts.
Nepal's crisis can be straightened out by reinstituting a Hindu State, a titular monarchy, and non-communist rulers. The constitution is destined to die an eventual death in course of time as it contains elements which are beyond the capacity of the Nepalese people to carry them out. In order to bring Nepal to a normal course of development, a new set-up is necessary not only to satisfy the people of Nepal but also to steer it towards a stable, peaceful and developed country.
Nepal as such cannot go against the interests of its neighbors. India is no exception. Nepal and India are bound by history, culture, economy and several other factors. However, the relation has to be maintained on the basis of friendship as two sovereign and independent countries irrespective of their size and strength. In this respect, Indian leadership has to take over the Nepal affairs at a political level and not leave it to the decision of the bureaucrats and the security officials. This will automatically end the practice of micro-management in Nepal.
India wonders at the growth of anti-India feelings despite its assistance in many fields. Nepalese are not anti-Indian as they are made out to be. It is the wrong policy at the governmental level, the interventionist tendency of India and the submissive character of the Nepalese leaders that have created a foul atmosphere in their relations. The strong leadership of Narendra Modi in making India strong and developed is a welcome phenomenon. Only a strong leader can make hard decisions that include turning the Nepal-India relations around from its currently deteriorating trend. India needs such leadership to change its attitude and policy towards Nepal in tune with the changed time and Nepalese aspirations, which unfortunately are not correctly represented by neither present leadership, nor by the kind of unworkable political system stemming from childish ideologues.