“Welcome to India and climb Mt. Everest!” Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi would like to see Indian tourism industry making similar advertisements one day. No one can object to a politician’s desire to make a name as a “great” PM. To reach his ambition, Modi the enchanter of Nepalis a year ago has now become their persecutor.
Jawaharlal Nehru, as the first PM of independent India, guided the nation in adopting a secular constitution. His deputy Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel integrated all the princely states into the Indian Union, and wanted to include Nepal as well. However, Nehru did not like the first democratically elected Nepali PM BP Koirala. His elder brother Matrika wrote that Nehru had encouraged King Mahendra to remove BP, but not dissolve the parliament. Mahendra did both. Nehru’s dislike for BP meant Nepal’s democracy died early. Nehru had his “dessert” from the Chinese leader Mao. In her book, Profiles of Indian Prime Ministers, the author Manisha states that the Indian defeat at the Chinese invasion of 1962 crippled Nehru.
For Nehru’s daughter Indira Gandhi, the first step towards “greatness” occurred when she succeeded in splitting Bangladesh away from Pakistan. Manisha writes, “Indira Gandhi became taller in her stature after the 14-day Indo-Pakistan war in December 1971…Atal Behari Vajpayee called Indira Gandhi ‘Goddess Durga’.” However, the “goddess” soon started on her other ambition—annexing Sikkim.
Clearly, Narendra Modi has idealized Vallabhbhai Patel and Indira Gandhi. Patel remained a bachelor after his wife died. Modi become one after deserting his wife. As the PM, Modi has taken steps to undo Nehru’s legacy. Having been a RSS member from his early youth, Modi detests the secularity that the Indian constitution under Nehru adopted. RSS’s Nathuram Godse murdered MK Gandhi for favouring Muslims. Modi, as the Chief Minister of Gujarat, watched silently the slaughter of over 2000 Muslims. He has tried to gag human rights activists investigating the massacre. His attempt to stop cow-slaughter has encouraged mobs to lynch Indian Muslims eating beef. Modi’s followers have damaged some churches in Delhi. Prominent Indian figures, disgusted at Modi’s insularity, have returned their awards to the government.
The Annexation of Sikkim
The Indian Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) had told PM Indira Gandhi in the early 1970s that India could takeover Sikkim within 24 hours. Although RAW had started its work long ago, the process began in earnest in 1973. In the Ambassador’s Club, B.S. Das gives a chilling account of Sikkim’s annexation. Ambassador Das went to Sikkim with Gandhi’s clear order to take over the government. Among the 75 % Nepalis living there, not all favoured annexation with India; but Kazi Lhendup Dorji and allies did. The Indian army had already taken over the Sikkimese police stations, and confined the police to barracks. Das writes, “The famous agreement of 8 May 1973 between him [Chogyal] and Kazi Lhendup Dorji, with India as a guarantor for maintaining his dynasty and providing justice to all ethnic elements, sealed the Chogyal’s fate.” India first became a guarantor and then a “legal” usurper because it did not protect Chogyal’s dynasty.
Ambassador Das reminded Chogyal that Sikkim never was independent. Rather, Chogyal “was a member of the Chamber of Princes of India and an honorary major general of the India Army,…a part of the overall Indian political system.” Also, he had made the terrible mistakes of going to the coronation of a Nepali king and contacting the Chinese!
To save his kingdom’s independence and win the impending election, Chogyal toured his country. People insulted him, and tied shoes to his portraits. Chogyal’s Nationalist Party consisting mainly of Bhotes won one seat out of thirty-two. Ambassador Das, who now acted as the governor, read out Chogyal’s inaugural address. The Sikkim Congress demanded the removal of Chogyal, and the country’s merger with India. A referendum supported both. Thus, India could claim “legally” that the people of Sikkim voted for the merger.
Parallels and Lessons
RAW has been always been active in Nepal as it was in Sikkim. As Kazi Lhendup Dorji favoured annexation with India, our Madeshi leaders had been demanding one Madesh one Pradesh, which, if granted, makes incidents like the present blockade and the merger of Tarai with our southern neighbour easy. The main Madeshi leader doing so could become the Governor of the resulting new Indian state for a term and then be thrown to the dust bin. The previous Indian ambassador to Nepal, Rakesh Sood, has written that he was in a meeting when our political leaders promised an autonomous state to the Madeshis. All Indian ambassadors have gone beyond their mandate at the invitation of our short-sighted leaders, who begged them for favours including scholarships for their children. Sushil Koirala, breaking his promise to the UML, stood as a PM candidate for the second time because India asked him to do so; and the agitating Madeshi leaders abandoned their Raxaul hotels’ free meals to cast their votes for him. Sher Bahadur Deuba had earlier flown to Delhi to assure Modi that secularism would not appear in the new constitution.
If Nepal or the Tarai becomes another Sikkim, kings from Tribhuvan onwards and “democratic” leaders will have to take the blame. Even as benevolent dictators like Jordan’s Hussein, our kings could have taken steps to develop the country’s enormous hydro-power potential so that India could not have choked us with the present petrol-diesel blockade. Rather, kings played off one party against another; and kept Nepal ever dependent on India. Our “democrats” fared no better for starting the futile 10 year war while hiding in India, ordering the bombing of our hydro-electric plants, or siding with crooks like “Chari”, “Ghainte” to line their own pockets.
Modi too should realize that both Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi paid with their lives for being too nosy in others’ affairs. As Vajpayee called Indira “Durga”, Modi may want the title “Shiva”; but “justice from high” prevails sooner or later.
(The Kathmandu Post changed the title to “Lessons of history” and published an edited version of this article on November 20, 2015. Please see http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2015-11-20/lessons-of-history.html Ramesh Khatry.)