Nepal: View from Bangladesh

The political developments in Nepal have become a matter of great interest and curiosity in Bangladesh with the political, diplomatic and the press circles keeping a close watch on the situation in the kingdom. For the last several days, the imbroglio involving the King, political parties and the Maoists has been hogging the headlines. Analytical articles kept emerging centring around the mass agitation and the eventual “people’s victory.” A great degree of anxiety and concern was palpable since the strikes had affected Nepal severely. But now a sense of relief is witnessed following the acceptance of the main demands by the King like the reinstatement of the parliament, dissolved in 2002.

The general tone of the Bangladeshi press and other circles is broadly that Nepal should return to normalcy only with complete return of people’s authority. None here relish a situation where the picturesque country would bleed to white as a consequence of the long-drawn political agitation. The parliament session on Friday was highlighted and taken positively in Bangladesh, but there is an impression that Nepal still faces certain complications revolving around the fate of the monarchy and the demands of the Maoists.

“Continuing Nepal tragedy: Power must rest with the people ultimately” was the caption of the editorial in The Star recently. “We have our total support for the aspirations of the Nepali people and our heart goes out to those who have lost their near and dear ones, trying to fulfil their desire of seeing democracy established in Nepal” commented the daily, asking for reconciliation between the warring parties for the sake of the nation. Newspapers have come out with editorials and analyses welcoming the people’s victory paving the way for the restoration of the parliament. The impression is that things will settle even though complexities are discernible particularly on how the latest developments are being taken by the Maoists, who worked together with the seven-party alliance against the King but are now taking a different stance. However, their announcement of a three-month-long ceasefire has been taken positively.

The late King Birendra is remembered with great respect in Bangladesh. His assassination in the palace massacre in 2001 came as a big shock to this country. King Gyanendra is also no stranger here since he attended the November SAARC summit in Dhaka last year, where he delivered a tough message to the political parties and the Maoists back home. The dismissal of the elected prime minister by the King in 2002 was considered the last nail in the coffin of the hard-earned democracy of 1990. Now the country is going back to democracy, but only after an intense agitation that cost many lives and saw manifold sacrifices.

Dhaka-Kathmandu ties have been cordial and friendly. Bangladesh, too, follows the same Westminster model of democracy. A good number of Bangladeshis visit Nepal for tourism and business purposes. However, there has been a sharp decline in the number for the last several months. Now the people are happy to see that the turbulent phase in Nepal is almost over and the press opines that matters would not have gone to such an extent had the King realised the gravity of the situation and acted a little early.

Chowdhury, a journalist, writes for THT from Dhaka