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Pottala Palace Beckons Dalai Lama

By Anjali Mathew

The Dalai Lama wants to return home. And home is Tibet. Home is Lhasa. Home is Pottala Palace. The Dalai Lama’s voice once rang and bounced off the walls of the Pottala Palace. China now owns Tibet, Lhasa and Pottala Palace. If he returns, China will own the Dalai Lama, too.

Was the Dalai Lama’s desire to return spoken from the heart? Was it a restless mind’s outpouring? There is a thinking that in that desire is a “potential fallout” for India. That it is an “affirmation” that President Xi Jinping is the “most powerful leader” in the region. That the Dalai Lama’s slow burning for home and hearth will have a bearing on India.

That it will for once and all bury the ‘Tibet Issue’.

On November 23, the Dalai Lama said, “The past is past, Tibetans want to stay with China”. That was serious. As serious as a heart attack. Pregnant with “serious political overtone”. More so as it came soon after the 19th party congress of the Chinese Communist Party and the Doklam standoff.

The Dalai Lama’s statement that “he would return to Tibet at once, if China agrees” pointed to a “possible rapprochement” with Beijing. Does it have anything to do with US President’s ‘America First’ policy? Trump recently visited China. He did not take a detour to New Delhi.

Tibet must have figured in Trump’s powwow with Xi Jinping. Talk is that Trump must not have made Tibet an outstanding issue between the United States and China. “Tibet is not our problem, but North Korea is,” Trump must have told Xi. Trump must have dumped the Dalai Lama for a piece of action against Kim Jong Un.

Maybe the US change in thinking was conveyed to the Dalai Lama by the US officials who called on him at Dharamshala just before Trump visited China. Trump is that unique character who will shake hands with the devil to pact a deal. The man wrote the Art of the Deal!
Barack Obama welcomed the Dalai Lama at the back door of the White House. Now Trump has proposed zero aid to the Tibetans in 2018. Has the Dalai Lama seen the writing on the wall? And he wants that the wall be in Pottala Palace than in Dharamshala.

Only recently, a week after Trump’s China visit, the Dalai Lama chose two personal emissaries to represent him in all ‘global engagements’. He said he was fatigued, exhausted, so he appointed the two “trusted friends” to represent him.

The Tibet issue is a complex one. Too many players are involved. The Dalai Lama has been working on a plan called 5/50 Vision for his return to Tibet, with the caveat “hope for the best and prepare for worst”. The plan envisaged a five-year strategy to return to dialogue with China. At the same time prepare for a 50-year struggle to fulfil the aspirations of the Tibetan people.

The appointment of the two emissaries is a victory for China. Beijing has been asking the Dalai Lama to stop going around the world to trash China. There is talk that the two emissaries have already made contact with China.

In any case global leaders were running out of excuses to shake hands with the Dalai Lama. China is a bear not a panda. It bears down on any head of state who smiles at the Dalai Lama.

So the Dalai Lama wants to return home. Why not? He may get his desire, too. And Xi would like tie up all loose ends before he retires, if only to be recognized as the most effective Chinese President in history. Once the Dalai Lama is “safely” ensconced in the Pottala Palace, Xi will get down (literally) to dealing with India. There must be hardliners among the Tibetans who do not want any rapprochement with China but with Dalai Lama in Pottala, the next Dalai Lama will “rise” in Tibet (China) and that will be a 100-year question answered in favour of China.

India can watch the scenario unfold. Once the Tibet issue is settled once and for all, China will come for “South Tibet” and Doklam and the boundary issue and then maybe India will have to do a Dalai Lama with China. (IPA Service)

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