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Home > English > Website archives > Rainbow of Crisis > THE FIRST IN MANY WAYS



Thursday 18 September 2008, by Daya Varma

Pushpa Kamal Dahal, long known as Prachanda, becomes the fist Prime Minister of the democratic Republic of Nepal, which used to be the Hindu Kingdom a while ago. Departing from the tradition of making the first visit to India, Dahal attends the dazzling closing ceremony of the Beijing Olympics while expressing a desire for friendship with both its neighbors.

Now there is no King any more in Nepal. Nepal is no more the only Hindu Kingdom in the whole world that it was until a few weeks ago. In its place there now is the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal. Its first Prime Minister is Pushpa Kamal Dahal (Prachanda), the Chairman of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). All previous Prime Ministers served at the pleasure of the King. Not any more.

Never have so many positive developments taken place in one country in such a short time as have happened in Nepal. In another first, Prachanda, the Prime Minister of Nepal, made his first foreign visit to China and not to India.

Just a few hours prior to heading for a five-day visit to China, Prachanda almost broke down in tears in his first live appearance as the country’s Head of Government while addressing the nation in the early morning of August 23, 2008. So communists can be sentimental too.

Prime Minster Dahal was accompanied by his wife Mrs. Sita Dahal and Minister for Information and Communications, Mr. Krishna Bahadur Mahara on his visit to China. He shunned the suggestion of the Indian Ambassador to Nepal Rakesh Sood to refrain from visiting China prior to visiting India. The closing ceremony of the Beijing Olympics was impressive by any standard. Perhaps no other country would put so much effort in the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics as did China. Dahal witnessed the great events of his northern neighbour, the birthplace of his mentor - Mao Zedong.

The Chinese might not have liked the developments in Nepal, but President Hu Jintao and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao allocated one solid hour to Nepal’s Prime Minister. It means something. One might infer that Dahal’s visit to China is also a victory for Nepal’s independence from big brotherly treatment by India, symbolized by the unequal treaty between India and Nepal signed in 1950.

History is in the making in yet other ways.

Prime Minister Dahal made a fervent appeal to all Nepalese to shun past differences and work together in the larger interest of the nation and its people. “Let us all forget our past enmity and concentrate on the nation building process”, is what PM Dahal stated. “If we have abundant opportunities then it is also associated with huge challenges…we need cooperation from the national army, police, government officials, international community, media, civil society and above all the people of this country to meet those challenges and the opportunities as well”, Prime Minister Dahal reiterated.

While addressing the nation, the Nepalese Prime Minister said: “First and foremost is the protection of our nationalism, national sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity…task ahead is to strengthen national unity…uniting people from Himal, Pahad and Terai/Madhes”.

Urging the international community more specifically, Nepal’s immediate neighbors China and India, to support Nepal in this “historic transition”, Prime Minister asked for their “moral and physical” support. He stated that “Our relations with our neighbors and friends in the international community will be based on the five principles of Panchasheel”. Perhaps Nepal’s Prime Minister was suggesting that henceforth his government would adopt the policy of equal proximity with both India and China, the two emerging giants on the world scene.

The developments in Nepal have been keenly watched by political leaders the world over. Listed as a terrorist with a bounty on his head, they have to reckon with Prachanda.

Moreover, leftists of all hues have to readjust not only their assessment of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) of which Prachanda is the Chairman but also the policy Prachanda’s government is expected to follow. While most of the left would welcome the pragmatic approach the Communist-led government is expected to take in Nepal, others are bound to be uneasy at the thought that their version of revolution or socialism is not going to be adopted by the CPN (M).