Is Nepal’s premier an Indian spy? The suggestion may sound scandalous, even libelous. But it’s an implication that has reportedly been leveled by a Nepali politician against Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai.
Rishi Raj Baral, a literary expert in the Communist Party and until July the editor of Samaybadda, claims that Bhattarai, who is also a senior Maoist leader, is an agent for India’s external intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).
Baral initially made the allegation in an article in the Annaporna Post in September. And Baral would, on the surface, appear to have some idea what he’s talking about. After all, he once worked for the Nepal Intelligence Department.
Baral says that Bhattarai has been propped up by India, arguing that this is why he formed a government that included all pro-India parties. He also warns of the “Sikkimization” of Nepal, and believes Maoist chief Prachanda is also a part of the Indian “plot.”
These are strong allegations, but nothing new for some Nepali politicians, who have at times used the India card to thwart Nepal’s ongoing peace process.
Meanwhile, according to an op-ed posted in News Blaze, former Prime Minister Madhav Nepal’s press advisor, Bishnu Rijal, wrote on the same day in Annapurna Post: “India’s good intention towards Dr. Baburam Bhattarai is not secret, it is manifest. Indian ambassador Jayant Prasad’s statement that India would support the PM whom the Nepali people favor is not a coincidence. Maoist Party Politburo member C. P Gajurel stated that the keys of the weapon containers were handed over under Indian direction, which further emphasizes on the issue.”
Yet Bhattarai’s own party colleagues have criticized him for his recent India trip and the signing of the Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (the premier threatened to resign if his party didn’t back the agreement).
The present political turmoil in Nepal stems from an internal struggle, with leaders of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) trying to run each other down to secure control. Baral is just one of those involved in throwing barbs at perceived rivals.
Further evidence of the ongoing strife comes from an article in the weekly newspaper Ghatana ra Bichar. According to a report there, “Prachanda secretly visited India and stayed at the Indian intelligence agency RAW guest house at Siliguri, in West Bengal, and held talks with Indian officials.” The report also took aim at the reputation of another prominent Nepali politician, Krishna Sitaula, who is general secretary of the Nepali Congress, alleging that Sitaula orchestrated the secret meeting.
Indian officials, for their part, say the real reason Prachanda and his wife visited Siliguri in September was to tend to some marital issues facing their youngest daughter, who is married to Narayan Vikram Pradhan, son of Indian communist leader and former Indian MP Badri Narayan Pradhan.
India’s Nepal watchers are somewhat amused by the outrageousness of the allegations by Nepali politicians when it comes to special relations between India and Nepal. But with the two countries sharing a 1,700 kilometer border, it’s also an issue that can’t be ignored.