By Maila Baje
As Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Oli appears tangibly and temperamentally re-energized by the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping, the fraternity of former prime ministers in his Nepal Communist Party (NCP) is acting out in different ways.
NCP co-chair, Pushpa Kamal Dahal, has started becoming malleable in all directions, suggesting that politics might take any turn. While Jhal Nath Khanal has been circumspect in his appraisal of the Chinese President’s visit and its implications, Madhav Kumar Nepal is ostensibly overcome with a fresh burst of patriotism.
If Dahal felt snubbed during the Xi sojourn – as is being suggested from some quarters, including those close to him – the NCP co-chair’s comments in the aftermath certainly make it look so. One moment, Dahal yearns for an alliance with the Nepali Congress, even to the point of dismissing his party’s massive legislative majority. The next, Dahal wants to launch another rebellion, almost oblivious to how low his stock has plummeted on that floor.
After that kindergarten brawl with Oli a couple of months ago during what was supposed to have been a warm send-off to the prime minister to his hospital in Singapore, Madhav Nepal has sought spiritedly to partner with Dahal in hopes of polishing his prime ministerial prospects. With Dahal mired in his own morbidity, though, Madhav Nepal has found a refuge that tends to be associated more with, well, scoundrels.
Following Xi’s departure, Madhav Nepal, as the head of the Department of Foreign Affairs of the NCP, exulted that Nepal proved its caliber to host the head of the state of one of the most powerful countries of the world. The Chinese President’s visit had helped enable an environment conducive to investment and augmented international attention and concern toward the country, the NCP senior leader added.
Merely days after issuing that formal NCP review, Madhav Nepal warned – not too cryptically –against the abundance of affection that might flow from our northern neighbor. He didn’t have such qualms about the surfeit of India’s love in 2005-2006, perhaps because he probably still believes the 12 Point Agreement was among the finest examples of positive foreign intervention.
Indeed, Madhav Nepal was among the most prominent people who described the 1990 Constitution as one of the best in the world, until, of course, it wasn’t. Surely, he had a vested interest there, considering that he was among the principal drafters. By that standard, we can safely assume that the ex-premier hasn’t seen enough to change his mind on the extent and impact of India’s tenderness coinciding People’s Movement II. (And let’s not broach the issue of ‘vested interests’ on this count.)
Balancing the interests of all major nations with our own national interests is a key challenge, Madhav Nepal said the other day. Nepal should maintain relations with neighboring countries ensuring the principles of independence, dignity and non-interference.
No nitpicking with such noble sentiments. Still, that shouldn’t stop you from asking why Madhav Nepal thought it fit to offer such erudition only after Xi’s visit? Can’t just be tit-for-tat for Xi’s emotive – and even excruciating – enumeration of the qualities of a good communist, could it?