Prachanda suspicious about India's role, keen to meet PM

Prachanda suspicious about India's role, keen to meet PM

Prachanda suspicious about India's role, keen to meet PM

Nursing "serious suspicions" on India's role in Nepal's political process, Maoist leader Prachanda has said the Indian establishment had failed to "grasp the verdict" of the historic 2008 election and he is keen to discuss his concerns with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Former Premier Pushma Kamal Dahal Prachanda, who has recently carried out a series of stinging attacks on India, said the discussions with such high-level Indian leadership were essential for creation of a "positive atmosphere". India, he claimed, had failed to "grasp the verdict" of the elections and "expectations of people" and wanted continuance of "status quo" wherein the "old political parties" would run the government.

The 56-year-old Chairman of Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) contended there were sections in the Indian establishment who did "not want to understand the dynamics of change" brought about by the 2008 elections in Nepal. "I am not saying everybody in India is against Maoists but there may be tendency in bureaucracy, or (intelligence) agencies or part of political leadership. There may be some people who don't want to understand the dynamics of change," he told reporters. He said India played a positive role when the Maoists and political parties reached the 12-point understanding, as also during the Constituent Assembly elections.

"But after the results of the elections, I have serious concerns, serious suspicion and doubts that the positive role to support the peace process and Constitution drafting has not continued," Prachanda said. He contended that India's positive attitude had not continued because it had "not accepted" that Maoists had emerged the largest party in the elections.

"We want to have high-level political discussion about our concerns. It will create positive atmosphere," he said, adding that it meant talks with the Indian Prime Minister. He said he did not have any suspicion in the leadership of Singh "because when I met him twice during my visit to India as Prime Minister, we had very good discussions". "But later on, there have been ups and downs, twists and turns in our relations and we want to have high-level political discussion to address concerns and to clarify on suspicions," he said.

Asked whether he would like to meet the Indian Prime Minister, he responded in affirmative but said it was for the Indian government to decide on this along with the timing. "Suspicions need to be cleared...We want to clarify our position and understand the position of India," he said. Prachanda, who led a decade-long armed agitation before joining the mainstream in 2006, became Prime Minister in August 2008 after his party got a majority in the elections. He resigned in May last year in protest against the decision of President Ram Baran Yadav to reverse his order sacking the then Army Chief Gen R Katawal.

Prachanda said he had tried to convey his concerns and suspicions to External Affairs Minister S M Krishna during their meeting here on Saturday last. On his recent allegations that India was interfering in Nepal's internal affairs, he said it was a result of reported comments by the Indian Army Chief Gen Deepak Kapoor opposing the proposed integration of former Maoist combatants in the Nepalese Army. He said he raised this issue with Krishna who "explained" that the comments that appeared in media were "not authentic".

The "clarification" by the External Affairs Minister had satisfied him "to some extent", Prachanda said but suspicions continue. During that meeting, Krishna conveyed India's unhappiness to Prachanda and said his "baseless propaganda" was vitiating the relations. Insisting that his party wanted to have "good relations" with India, Prachanda said it needed a "new basis" which cannot happen till there is an understanding about the "expectations" of the people of Nepal, implying restoration of power to the Maoists. "If we are able to convey our concerns to the Indian leadership, it will be very helpful for development of new relationship with India," he said.