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Truth be told, Delhi effects flip flop on tarai pot pro tem

STAFF WRITER, KATHMANDU: Finding that agitation could push Nepal into deeper and meaningful ties with China, the Indian side has prevailed on the tarai outfits to call off what was petering off as a farcical political stunt.

If that was to be a scenario, the Indian side would find itself in complicated relationship with Nepal whereby either it would be left to win back Nepal with sweet talks or take a still tougher stance which would have again further complicated the tangle beyond repair.

Coming to the agitation and how it has been called off effort is being made to look like as if India had nothing to do with it by having the tarai outfits indulge in “on again and off again” exercise and floating news that leadership is yet to decide the course of agitation and vice versa.

The entire exercise that lasted just under four months had all the elements of a farce given how it was petering off under poor participation. Final lap saw a solitary sadhu lying down under the tent set up for sit in protesters, who went for breakfast, lunch and dinner across the border at one point of time.

Sadly one can only rue the loss of some 60 lives lost in the course of the last four months at the hand of security agencies in what was fully avoidable had the political parties leading shown some sense.

Section of Indian media meanwhile, of course, virtually played the cheer leader all along, with some exception though when a reporter asked visiting tarai leaders in Delhi:Why are you here?

Economically, it had telling impact on the livelihood of the people who have to earn every day to make a living, with traffic at grounding halt and nothing else left to do. It was painful for the public finance, too, with Nepal losing Rs. 52 billion in import and export duties.

Equally painful side of the episode is it gave impetus to smuggling across the porous border, with security agencies too taking a cut while the merchandise sold at exorbitant rate that put the consumer into the fire from the frying pan, literally.

It is not that businesses on this side of the border alone were hit; the blows were received by businesses on the other side of the border. There have been reports suggesting that Indian traders on the border hired local goons to beat up the “agitators” on Nepalese side at some point of time.

The human loss of the drama has been further criminalisation of society which was yet to bounce back from violent spells following protracted Maoist insurgency and tarai agitation of the past years.

Not only that. It has also left deep chasm in the Nepalese population spread across tarai and hill, although it is expected that the wounds will not take long to heal given the resilience Nepalese demonstrate.

The entire exercise has been variously attributed to the machinations of the Indian security agencies which perhaps felt Nepal ought to be taught a lesson for what they found, and political step coming from Prime Minister’s Office in Delhi with Prime Minister Narendra Modi determined to have Nepal sign river harnessing deal with India so that he can fulfill electoral promises made to Bihar people.

Unless of course the Nepalese side has agreed with Modi, the latest bid appears to have not borne any result for India. People get to learn of such deals only after a period of time since they are often wrapped under oath of secrecy if the demands have been met.

However one thing is for sure: Nepal and India cannot be best friends in the true sense of the word given their own and mutual interest, which do not match to make a good pair of friends.

Truth be told, India does not consider Nepal as a friend at all given its size both geographically and its economy but a weak Hindu state, venal politician, self-serving media — with exception of course since vernacular weekly press is very vibrant — and which can be exploited to its best advantage without much effort.

While India is further likely to step in in favor of the tarai people for reasons well known, Nepalese side is equally likely to ensure check and balance in political power of various provinces under the new constitution for understandable reasons.

Published Date: Saturday, February 6th, 2016 | 09:51 PM

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