The Hindu: October 14, 2015 00:05 IST Tarred by its own brush
With its attention-grabbing antics and intimidating tactics laced with violence, the Shiv Sena is turning out to be a huge embarrassment for not only the BJP, its senior partner in government at the Centre and in Maharashtra, but also for Indian diplomacy. The black-paint attack in Mumbai by its activists on Sudheendra Kulkarni for organising the launch of a book written by former Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri might have been intended as a challenge to the BJP in Maharashtra, but it also poses difficulties for India in dealing with Pakistan, and in seeking the support of other nations against Pakistan. To many in Pakistan, the Indian political class as a whole must have appeared as a mirror image of their own politicians and jihadists, spewing venom and instigating violence. Not surprisingly, the attack drew criticism from several quarters, including former Indian diplomats who would have known what damage such incidents can do to bilateral relations. The Sena came through no better than those very forces in Pakistan it was seeking to condemn. If it thought that blackening the face of Mr. Kulkarni would appeal to sections beyond its core constituency, the Sena was badly mistaken. The attack was evidently meant to break the spirit of Mr. Kulkarni, but it only hardened his resolve: refusing to be intimidated, he faced the media with the paint still on his face, showing up the Sena for its petty-mindedness and cowardliness. Even those who might have sympathised with the Sena's larger intention would have seen how counter-productive its actions turned out to be.
Evidently, the Sena was trying to retrieve lost ground in Maharashtra, and not to make things difficult for Indian diplomats engaging with Pakistan. The Sena, after having been the senior partner in its alliance with the BJP, is now reduced to the status of a junior partner in the Devendra Fadnavis government. As a party that had realised the limitations of Marathi chauvinism as a political tool, the Sena embraced Hindutva, hoping to use the BJP as no more than an electoral prop. But it was the BJP that grew at the Sena's expense, leading to the break-up of the alliance last year, and the BJP winning nearly twice as many seats as the Sena in the Assembly election. Not surprisingly, the attack on Mr. Kulkarni saw some sharp comments by Chief Minister Fadnavis, who chided the Sena for bringing disrepute to Maharashtra. The Sena responded by announcing that it would contest the Kalyan-Dombivli Municipal Corporation election without an alliance with the BJP. Thus, besides causing a serious erosion of India's moral authority in dealing with Pakistan, it could unsettle again the BJP's relations with the Sena. Mr. Kulkarni washed away the paint, but the attack on him might have tarred the Sena for a long time to come
A dark, thick, flammable liquid distilled from wood or coal, consisting of a mixture of hydrocarbons, resins, alcohols, and other compounds. It is used in roadmaking and for coating and preserving timber.
Foolish, outrageous, or amusing behavior.
Frighten or overawe (someone), especially in order to make them do what one wants.
Expel large quantities of (something) rapidly and forcibly.
A poisonous substance secreted by animals such as snakes, spiders, and scorpions and typically injected into prey or aggressors by biting or stinging.
Bring about or initiate (an action or event).
Express complete disapproval of, typically in public; censure.
· Exaggerated or aggressive patriotism.
Scold or rebuke.
A Prime Minister in a new setting
What has made the occasion momentous is the fact that he is the first Prime Minister of the republic of Nepal after an elected CA had adopted a popular Constitution.
Khadga Prasad Oli of the Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist-Leninist) has been elected Nepal's 38th Prime Minister by legislators in the Constituent Assembly. What has made the occasion momentous is the fact that he is the first Prime Minister of the republic of Nepal after an elected CA had adopted a popular Constitution. Considering that Mr. Oli was seen as a leader from among those who were less than exuberant about the peace-building and state restructuring processes that guided Nepal's transition from monarchy to republic, it is remarkable that he is at the helm now. This has come at a time when the country has finally managed to complete the long-drawn Constitution-writing process — notwithstanding some critical flaws that remain in it. These flaws are what have impelled the plains-dwellers, the Madhesis, to agitate to seek amendments that would ensure a fair deal to them in terms of federal restructuring and constituency demarcation, among other issues. The Indian establishment's support to this demand had drawn a predictable nationalist response from political parties that have their leadership dominated by those from the hills. This reaction also in a way propelled the victory of Mr. Oli, who sought to use this "nationalist" impulse to spur his candidacy. Nothing else explains the Nepali Maoists, the former royalists and the UML having got together to elect Mr. Oli, pipping Sushil Koirala of the Nepali Congress to the post. Many in Nepal's political class have often swung towards "anti-India nationalism" to whip up support for themselves, even as they relied on India to advance their own interests at expedient moments.
India's response to the recent protests in the Terai region might be a consequence of its discomfort with the instability spilling over into Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, but the not-so-subtle economic coercion being used on the border could definitely have been avoided. Any such action in the nature of what Kathmandu terms an economic blockade will only end up stoking ultra-nationalist impulses. Such an outcome will not help the domestic processes that would otherwise normally play themselves out. To India's credit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated his counterpart for his election, while expressing the hope that Mr. Oli would "carry all sections of society along, so that there is peace and stability". This is a subtle and well-thought-out message to the Nepal government to work towards addressing the disaffection in the Terai. In sending such a message, Mr. Modi avoided any possibility of it being misinterpreted as interference in Nepal's domestic affairs. Mr. Oli indeed has his task cut out.
(of a decision, event, or change) of great importance or significance, especially in its bearing on the future.
Filled with or characterized by a lively energy and excitement.
Drive, force, or urge (someone) to do something.
(dweller) inhabitant: a person who inhabits a particular place
· at the helm (of something)
Fig. in the position of being in control of something. The president is at the helm of the company. Things will go well with Anne at the helm.
(of a young bird) crack (the shell of the egg) when hatching.
The practice of persuading someone to do something by using force or threats.
(especially of a change or distinction) so delicate or precise as to be difficult to analyze or describe.
· When someone says, 'He's really got his work cut out for him,' I take it to mean that he will have difficulty in successfully completing his work or task.