Former PM’s memoirs record Indian grip on Nepal politics

December 12th, 2008 - 12:20 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, Dec 12 (IANS) The Koiralas, known as the Kennedys of Nepal with three brothers having served as prime ministers, were closely associated with India’s Congress leaders but Matrika Prasad Koirala’s newly published memoirs allege that India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru sought to control the Himalayan nation. Koirala, who became Nepal’s prime minister after the fall of the dictatorial Rana regime in 1951, died in 1997 at the age of 85.

However, it was only in 2005 when his wife Manju Koirala handed over his papers to Ganesh Raj Sharma, the author who had recorded Koirala’s brother B.P. Koirala’s autobiography, and urged him to publish the memoirs.

“A Role in a Revolution”, published by Nepal’s Jagadamba Prakashan, records the “enormous influence” wielded by Nehru and lays bare the Indian leader’s reported intervention in Nepali politics.

According to the book, the Indian leaders “with whom the Nepali leaders had worked so closely during the struggle against colonial rule suddenly changed their attitude towards Nepal after (Indian) independence” and a hostile New Delhi played an important role in Koirala’s “exit from power”.

The chill reportedly began when India wanted to sign a bilateral treaty with Nepal that would have “done away with the sovereignty and independence of Nepal”.

The draft of the treaty was drawn up by “some ministers of the Nepal government” and the then Indian external affairs minister and prime minister in New Delhi in May 1954.

It proposed “close and continuous contact between the two governments in regard to their foreign policies” for a “coordinated policy”. It also proposed that “in matters relating to the relations of Nepal with Tibet and China, consultations will take place with the government of India”.

India also suggested that “whenever the government of Nepal so desires, Indian missions abroad will undertake to represent the government of Nepal and look after Nepali interests”.

However, both Nepal’s then king Tribhuvan and Koirala felt that the treaty was a “design against (Nepal’s) sovereignty”, which would lead to “permanent servitude”.

Koirala rejected it and according to the book, “it was for this patriotic service that he forever lost the goodwill of India”.

Koirala also resisted India’s proposal for “unhindered (Indian) police surveillance up to 30 miles inside Nepali territory”, says the book.

Another reason for his downfall was his refusal to allow India permission to deploy its troops in Nepal, the book says.

In 1950, Nepali leader Kunwar Inderjit Singh became known as the Robin Hood of the Himalayas when he began opposing the Rana regime by capturing land and distributing it among peasants.

Though jailed, Singh escaped in 1952 and staged a daring multi-pronged attack that succeeded in capturing the airfield, treasury and arsenal.

The book says the then Indian ambassador to Nepal C.P.N. Singh sought Koirala’s permission to bring in Indian troops to quell the armed mutiny, which too was denied.

“A Role in a Revolution” also says that Nehru was aware of Nepali king Mahendra’s plan in 1960 to stage a coup, dismiss the elected prime minister and ban political parties. Nehru, it says, “consented to the change”.

Nehru is also depicted as having pressured the Koirala brothers, who were following the Gandhian way of peaceful protests against the Rana regime, to switch over to violence.

“What nonsense is this Gandhism?” Nehru reportedly told B.P. Koirala when the two met in New Delhi. “Do some clandestine activity in which there will be invisible support from us.”

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