Nepal-China Watch: Is China’s Jinping meeting Prachanda?

Chinese President Xi Jinping Nepal Puspa Kamal Dahal

KATHMANDU: Nepal’s politicians have always tried to balance their ties with both of its giant southern and northern neighbors but so far no one has succeeded, at least with tangible results. The erstwhile Maoist Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai had also put a lot of efforts to visit China as officiating Prime Minister, but appointment with the Chinese President was available for him only in June. But, his party’s supremo, Puspa Kamal Dahal seems to be luckier than him. He is rumored to get the opportunity to hold dialogue with Xi Jinping.

A vernacular Nepali weekly news portal while confirming the report about Dahal’s, who is more famous for his war time name “Prachanda”, visit to China on April 14 claimed that the visit has been sponsored by the Chinese embassy in Kathmandu.

The visit is seen with importance due to two factors that are attached with Prachanda’s own and his party’s political ambition and China’s renewed interest in its neighborhood – especially Nepal which still remains a playground for the western powers for ‘upsetting’ Tibetan issue.

The recent formation of the Chief Justice led Interim Electoral Cabinet (IEC) in Nepal marked a new phase of transition. With various issues related with the constitution drafting still unsettled, instability across the nation, is predicted more than it was during the early CA elections. Scores of ethnic and regionalist groups’ demands for a ethnic/regional federal states have not been addressed or managed. An unstable neighborhood is never in the interest of a nation, that is trying hard to subside its own secessionist groups.

If the formation of federal states is carried out on the basis of ethnicity or ‘unitary ethnic identity’ as demanded by some recently formed ethnic-based and regional-based politics forces in Nepal, it is sure to be creating more hurdles for the neighbors- who are finding it hard to have their concerns addressed even with a centralized government in the present stage.

Prachanda comes into picture at this very moment. As the person who brought Nepal to this present stage- through bloodshed and later through peaceful politics- he is presently one of the mostly looked after political strategist that the nation has. With China adopting a more close-neighborhood policy, as announced by Jinping himself, Prachanda’s tour seems significant, though the dialogue between the duo still remains unconfirmed.

Apart from the China factor, the visit is certain to add some muscles to his party’s standing among the major political parties. In the recent time, relationship of Nepal’s older parties like the Nepali Congress and CPN UML’s communication with Indian centers has remained unhealthy. This was ascertained when the Maoist led Bhattarai government continued ruling even though NC President Koirala and UML’s Oli had communicated their willingness to take the reins. With Bhattarai cherishing support from Delhi, Prachanda’s visit might win the UCPN Maoist support from Beijing.

These confluence of support to Prachanda’s party will be a substantial threat to the claims of NC and UML, who are presently focused on strengthening their electoral standing by campaigning across the nation. If Prachanda meets Jingping, than he will one of the leader from South Asian nations to hold talks in the great hall. Adding to it, if the dialogue remain substantial, it will surely boost his party’s electoral campaign that aims to win a majority in the upcoming CA.

Lack of two third majority of any of the political parties and polarization leading to confrontation between the major forces had obliterated the earlier endeavor to draft the constitution. With preparations to forge alliance with the Madhesh-centric parties, Prachanda has hopes to remain a dominant force in the next CA too. This visit might just provide him the stamina to sustain his aspirations.

Family Politics!

Besides Prachanda and his party’s claims that he will be holding dialogue with China’s President, his family politics is also surprisingly attached with this trip and shocking too, to some extent. The Maoist supremo will be heading to China with his wife and his recently India-returned son Prakash Dahal. Though Prakash was absconding from the nation and from Prachanda’s sight after he eloped with party co-cadre, he has recently returned home. And Prachanda has nullified all disciplinary actions taken by the party against him and has paved way for his son to accompany him to the Great Hall. The news report claimed that Prachanda has denied not to take any of the senior leaders of the party with him citing secrecy reasons.