RSS wants govt to work on improving ties with Nepal
The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has expressed concern over the strain in the ties with Nepal and wants New Delhi to focus on rebuilding people-to-people ties with Kathmandu people familiar with the matter said on condition of anonymity.
The ideological fount of the BJP, the RSS, has however backed India’s response to China following the violent face-off between the armies of the two sides in Ladakh on June 15.
Both issues were discussed at a meeting between the RSS top brass and the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) leadership earlier this week in New Delhi, the people cited above added.
RSS leaders present at the meeting, the people said, expressed concern that the government and the intelligence agencies were blindsided by developments in the neighbourhood and were worried at the deterioration in Indo-Nepal relations.
“The meeting which was chaired by the RSS general secretary Suresh Bhaiyaji Joshi and attended by several RSS leaders, BJP president JP Nadda and BJP’s general secretary, organisations BL Santhosh was called to assess the situation brewing on the borders and to prepare for the ‘post- Covid’ developments,” said one of the people.
He added that the meeting also discussed the possibility of opponents of the Citizenship Amendment Act launching another “Shaheen Bagh like protest” after the pandemic dies out. The reference is to an area in New Delhi where protestors against the law took over a road for months on end. The protest was effectively brought to an end by the pandemic.
While the RSS has always advocated a muscular foreign policy to deal with Pakistan and China; it is concerned that India and Nepal have not been able to resolve issues through dialogue.
Earlier this month Nepal’s Lower House of Parliament passed a constitutional amendment Bill revising the Coat of Arms and amending the country’s map to incorporate Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura areas, traditionally claimed by India.
The RSS leadership has weighed in favour of revisiting trade ties with China; and after the clashes in Ladakh’s Galwan Valley that led to the killing of 20 Indian soldiers there is a concerted campaign to push the government to reset trade links and also elicit support from people for the same. But as far as Nepal is concerned, the Sangh wants the emphasis on people-to-people ties.
“What started off as internal politics in Nepal has taken the shape of acrimony (between the two sides). There is a sense (in the RSS) that the bureaucracy took precedence over political engagement, which resulted in communication slip ups,” said a second person familiar with what transpired at the meeting.
Referring to Nepal Army chief General Purna Chandra Thapa’s visit to inspect a security post in Kalapani, the second person added: “The Sangh does not favour any military l face-off between India and Nepal. It is concerned by the developments, but believes that these are being triggered at the behest of China. So it wants relations to be normalized between the two countries.”
Sanjay Kumar of the Centre for Developing Studies said the RSS’s push for better relations with Nepal stems from the ideological similarities between the two countries. “There is an ideological connect between the Sangh and Nepal, a Hindu nation. Also, amending ties with them is easier than (doing so with) China.”
Social equations between Indian and Nepalese also play a key role in pushing for friendly ties Kumar said. “There are family ties, marriages take place between the people on both sides and that plays an important role in establishing friendly relations.”