Nepal's Maoist prime minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda' came to India as the representative of a "new Nepal", seeking a new relationship with his old mentor but without changing too many ground rules. That Prachanda, or 'the fierce one', has made a smooth transition from the jungle to the gym of politics was evident as he glided easily from one important handshake to another in Delhi this week. He reached out to the entire spectrum of Indian politics, discussing old times with the Left and inviting L.K. Advani to visit Janakpur and Pashupatinath temple. The message: his Maoist past must not cloud his democratic present.
There were no guerrilla tactics—he was open about what he wanted from India: more power, rail, hydel and development projects for Nepal. And a revision of the 1950 Indo-Nepal Treaty of Peace and Friendship to reflect the changing times. Since Prachanda embodies the aspirations of the new republic having forced the end of monarchy, he has to do and say things that show a break from the past, including on how relations are conducted with India. "We want to create a new model for peace and it is our collective responsibility to make it successful," he told a gathering of Indian political leaders. "We want a break in continuation but bring in new continuity in relations with India." Awkward articulation but the meaning was clear: India is important for Nepal but there is a need to dress the relationship differently.