Former Nepali Prime Minister and co-chairperson of Nepal Communist Party (NCP) said that there are no more anti-India and pro-Chinese forces in Nepal.
In his exclusive interview to Journalist Prashanta Jha of The Hindustan Times, former rebel leader said that the recent merger of the communist party is not the outcome of any pressure, advice, or preference of China. He said that right after the peace process started, there was discussion of unity between the UML and Maoists – and China had no role at all at that point.
Former Prime Minister Prachanda said that India has had a unique role in Nepal’s entire peace process. He also said that following the end of monarchy there is no more pro-India or pro-China cards.
“Politics in Nepal, in the past, often revolved around pro-India or pro-China cards. The primary driver of this was the monarchy and the feudal forces. Their culture and ideology was showing oneself as pro-India sometimes, pro-China at other times, and gaining from it. Now we have a federal democratic republic, we have an inclusive democracy; we had a unique peace process. And in all of this, India has had a unique role,” said Prachanda.
“Politics in Nepal, in the past, often revolved around pro-India or pro-China cards. The primary driver of this was the monarchy and the feudal forces. Their culture and ideology was showing oneself as pro-India sometimes, pro-China at other times, and gaining from it,” said Prachanda.
Prachanda also revealed that he requested in written to former Indian Prime Minister late Atal Bihari Vajpayee at the peak of the insurgency.
“At the Peak of the insurgency I had said that we are a political party, we don’t want violence to continue, and if Nepali people are given real democratic rights, we want to come into the peace process. As chairman of the Maoist party, I wrote a letter to the then Indian PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee that if India facilitates this process, then an environment of peace can be created. If you go to the roots of the peace process, it goes back to Vajpayee. It was not possible for him to reply directly. But there was a positive response in a concrete way, in a manner I understood. Then Congress, under Manmohan Singh, also supported it. And it has continued. No one can overlook this or negate this fact of Indian role,” said Prachanda.
Former Nepal Prime Minister Prachanda during his visit to India met Prime Minister Narendra Modi, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj, home minister Rajnath Singh and former prime minister and Congress leader Manmohan Singh.
He said that his meeting with Prime Minister of India was excellent. “I have come here earlier as a Maoist leader and as Prime Minister. This time, I am the chairperson of the unified (communist) party. But I saw no difference. In fact, I am not the PM now but I was deeply touched with the kind of respect and honor he (Modi) gave me. He came and received me and dropped me outside. When I was PM and Maoist chairman, I met him for 15-20 minutes, and it was often not one-on-one. This time, we spent over an hour and fifteen minutes together alone and had a candid conversation about different facets of Nepal-India ties, economic development, his recent visits to Nepal, and implementation of pacts. We reviewed the history of the Indian subcontinent. He mentioned how India and China together, till 400 years ago, had 50 percent of the share of the world economy. Now, we concluded we are entering a new era of trust, collaboration. We had a meaningful and qualitatively different kind of conversation this time,” said Prachanda.
CPN Cochairman Prachanda said that after the recent visit of Indian Prime Minister Modi there is a positive environment. “For 17 years, no Indian PM had come. And now, Modiji has come four times in his term. This is an important strategic development. When he came the first time, addressed parliament, directly greeted people on the roads, it had generated huge enthusiasm and trust. Later, due to the Madhes movement, the constitution, the blockade, that enthusiasm dipped and there was suspicion. But he has come twice after that. (Nepal) PM (KP) Oli has also come here. There is a positive environment again. Modiji himself has taken the initiative, come repeatedly to improve ties. People may have had apprehensions that Nepal has a communist government, and there is a BJP government here. How can they work? But the reality is both can work together well, and are actually strengthening relations,” said Prachanda.
He said that in the current context, connectivity is a key issue – air, road, rail, communication connectivity. “So it is a part of a natural process to enhance land and rail links with China. There is also a sense in Nepal that we are land-locked, and it would be good to get land-linked. So it is correct that Chinese activities have increased. But you cannot compare it with India. India is still the key factor in all economic activities,” said Prachanda.
“We also have to understand that China will not, at the cost of provoking India, either support Nepal or provoke Nepal. I have gone repeatedly as PM, as Maoist chairman, to China, and I am going again soon. No leader has ever told me that that you should not have good ties with India or said anything negative. They have always said you have to work with India. You also have to see India-China ties have deepened. Modiji has gone to China. Xi Jinping has come here. From what I understand, Modiji and Xi Jinping have had a very in-depth, strategic dialogue. They want to improve ties. I don’t think China and India will play small games, when both of them are so focused on creating a partnership for an Asian century, when they are such big markets, when they are rising in global stature,” said Prachanda.
He said that there are no efforts by this government to reduce dependence and engagement with India and deepen the engagement and built strategic relations with China.
“What Nepal and Nepali leaders may think is one factor. But what Indian and Chinese leaders think is a different factor. There is often confusion about this. Someone in Nepal may want this –reduce Indian role, increase Chinese role. But is that how India and China think? I don’t think so. I don’t think there is any organized effort of this sort in Nepal either,” said Prachanda.