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Rajnath deputes team to Nepal

Team is sent to assess the political situation in Nepal to see if the party can recover the initiative lost to the Left, reports Shekhar Iyer.

india Updated: Jan 10, 2007 22:14 IST
Shekhar Iyer
Shekhar Iyer

BJP President Rajnath Singh has sent a team to Nepal to assess the political situation in Nepal to see if the party can recover the initiative lost to the Left who encouraged the Maoists to bring about a historic change in government.

A five-member BJP team, headed by the party's foreign cell chairman Surendra Arora, may meet Maoist leaders though the party maintains that it is not the main agenda.

Till date, senior BJP leaders have kept off the Maoist leaders, saying they must laid down their arms first. They have also accused them of a nexus with Indian Naxalite groups, apprehending creation of a "Red Corridor" from Andhra Pradesh to Nepal, covering Orissa, Jharkhand, Chattisgarh and Bihar.

When events unfolded in the Himalayan state, leading to a popular upsurge against King Gyanendra, the party was caught on the wrong foot as it was seeking protection for the constitutional monarchy.

The reason: the BJP and the RSS and its affiliates like the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) have been traditionally backing the monarch, who was venerated as being the "only" Hindu king in the world.

The BJP and the RSS were unhappy that, after the king's ouster in April, Nepal's Parliament declared the once Hindu kingdom a secular country to curb the powers of the king, who claimed to be the incarnation of Vishnu.

"There is rethinking in the party but we need to talk to Nepalese leaders," said a senior BJP leader. "The team, which consists of Vijay Jolly, Ajit Kumar Singh, Harindra Pandey and Girish Dhume, will talk to all leaders."

BJP leaders agree that the Left got an edge when they supported the pro-democracy movement and managed to earn the goodwill of the seven-party ruling alliance and the Maoist guerrillas.

At Lucknow where the BJP held a key conclave last month, Rajnath Singh dropped any reference to the issue of Hindu kingdom. Instead, he focused attention on restoring democracy and steps to prevent Nepal being used as a base by Pakistan-based groups for terror attacks.

Reports from Kathmandu say the BJP team is expected to meet Maoist leader Baburam Bhattarai, who also heads the guerrillas' foreign relations department.

The BJP leaders are expected to meet Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala, former deputy prime minister Madhav Kumar Nepal, who heads the second largest party, the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist, and deposed premier Sher Bahadur Deuba, who heads the Nepali Congress-Democratic party.

The team will also hold consultations with Pashupati Shamsher Rana, chief of the Rastriya Prajatantra party, a once pro-monarchy party that has now distanced itself from him. Rana is also brother-in-law of BJP's chief minister in Rajasthan Vasundhara Raje.

First Published: Jan 10, 2007 22:14 IST