After the Maoists marched to an incredible victory in the elections in Nepal, the Maoist hero Prachanda, the leader of the victorious communist party of Nepal (Maoist) is now beginning to win a lot of hearts in the elite classes of the liberal Indians. The villain of the past (pre-2005) era is suddenly afresh with energy and a chocolate-boy-next door image as a pragmatic leader.
It doesn't matter anymore, that Prachanda was the man behind the massacre of innocent civilians in different parts of Nepal by the well-trained, well-armed and well-motivated insurgent army raised by him. It is of no consequence that Prachanda had contacts with the Shining Path guerrillas of Peru. It hurts nobody anymore that he helped the Maoists in India, particularly in Andhra Pradesh in clandestine operations against India, particularly against the Indian Army. It is forgotten that he used the support of the Nepalese Royal family secretly to plot against the Indians.
Now, he is the pragmatic leader, the man for the future of Nepalese relationship with India. The liberals don't mind his communist ideology, they love him all the same. He made it apparent in many of his statements in Nepal that he would not consider democracy as genuine unless it enabled him to become the President of a republican Nepal, but that did not sound a jarring note in India . The desire to encourage his seeming metamorphosis became the driving force of policy-making and the negative comments emanating from him from time to time were overlooked.
But what we need to realise is that this burgeoning love for somebody who was once an insurgent though practical, needs to be handled delicately. From an India-Nepal integration point of view, welcoming an insurgent movement into governance and integrating it in the mainstream is a touchy process, which has to be handled carefully and gradually. In its over-eagerness to achieve integration, India should not create new problems in Nepal. India's method of managing the process of integration, has been successful with the so-called Naga Federal Government when Indira Gandhi was PM. in the 1970s and with the Mizo National Front under Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi in the 1980s. Now after 20 years, and with another very close neighbour in a similar fate, India needs to watch out.
The Villains can become the Heroes, no doubt but take that with a grain of salt.