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Kathmandu connect

The volatile world of Nepal politics is all set for another tumble with the death of Girija Prasad Koirala, the patriarch of democratic Nepal. Koirala’s death may mean instability in Nepal but for India continuity is the key.

india Updated: Mar 23, 2010 00:00 IST

The volatile world of Nepal politics is all set for another tumble with the death of Girija Prasad Koirala, the patriarch of democratic Nepal. It was he who was able to hold together the movement against the monarchy in difficult times. The Nepali Congress-led coalition is in for shaky times and a fierce internal struggle for succession is bound to ensue between his daughter Sujata Koirala and those in the party who feel she has been foisted on them. Unlike her charismatic father, Ms Koirala is not known for her political insights and opinions. There are many contenders for the top post in the Nepali Congress, but no one has ever been given a chance thanks to the fact that succession was taken for granted as the rightful inheritance of the Koirala family. India, correctly, has stayed in the background, given the sensibilities in Kathmandu.

However, there are developments that the Indian establishment should keep an eye on. The Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), smarting at its growing irrelevance, is bound to use this turmoil in a bid to destabilise the Madhav Nepal government. The Maoists, after a bitter civil war, have not been able to deliver on their promises of a better future. An enormous number of people have died for the dream of a better Nepal. Mr Prachanda and his cohorts don’t seem to have gone beyond the rhetoric which is now wearing thin. All they seem to have done is to have got a semblance of power, only to lose it very soon. The example is the loss of major hydel projects with India for no apparent reason. They have also tried very hard to play the China card with not much success as of now.

What New Delhi needs to look at now is a degree of continuity in ties, since Nepal is strategically crucial for India. Nepal’s leaders, the Maoists particularly, sometimes seem to forget that India is host to millions of Nepali workers, something that works so much to Nepal’s advantage. The ties with Nepal will now hopefully move to a more solid foundation and much of the emotion that surrounded the Koirala family will be dissipated. Indian tourism is a major factor which keeps the Nepali economy afloat. With the civil war and unrest, the foreigners who used to flock to the country are no longer knocking at the door. The Madhav Nepal government will stay on course at the moment, but with difficulty as the political war begins. G.P. Koirala had a grand vision for a unified Nepal and a seamless relationship with India. The coming days will prove whether this will come true.