New Delhi: New Delhi believes that Nepal Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli is ratcheting up unprecedented tensions with India over border issues to “deflect attention” from his own unpopularity and intra-party troubles, a top official told ThePrint.
The fact that PM Oli has taken such a hard stance against a friendly neighbour like India, especially amid a pandemic, is indicative of the fact that his Nepal Communist Party is facing severe opposition from rival factions and opposition parties in the country, said the official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
“He (PM Oli) has used this to show a sudden nationalist urge that seeks to serve his purpose of deflecting attention from his own unpopularity and intra-party troubles,” the official told ThePrint.
Tensions between Kathmandu and New Delhi took a dramatic turn Wednesday when India said it will not accept such “artificial enlargement of territorial claims”, and urged the Nepalese leadership to “create a positive atmosphere for diplomatic dialogue to resolve the outstanding boundary issues”.
India was reacting to a new political map released by Nepal on Tuesday showing the disputed territories of Limpiyadhura, Lipulekh and Kalapani within its territory.
Veteran diplomat and former Indian Ambassador to Nepal, Rakesh Sood, told ThePrint that the border dispute between India and Nepal has existed for over two decades now.
“It was agreed at the level of Prime Ministers that a political-level resolution was required to resolve the matter, which has not happened,” he said.
“The road (new road to Kailash Mansarovar) has been under construction for more than 10 years now and it was understood that India will use the road. India has continued to maintain a presence in Lipulekh pass since the 1950s,” he added. “We also have an open border and free movement of people. Therefore, these issues are best resolved through sensitivity to each other’s concerns and not by increased rhetoric which removes any space for compromise and understanding.”
Oli under fire in Nepal
Prime Minister Oli has been facing severe criticism in Nepal over the way his government has handled the Covid-19 crisis. There have been charges of corruption against some of his ministers over the procurement of medical devices and other equipment from China for the coronavirus crisis, said another source.
Oli, the source said, has also been accused of losing grip on his party while leaders like Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda” are tightening their influence. The ruling party is now divided in literally two camps.
Oli has also been facing a leadership crisis for the last few months and this got accentuated when last month, and again in May, the Chinese ambassador to Kathmandu, Hou Yanqi, met Dahal as well as another senior party leader Madhav Nepal, both former Prime Ministers of the country.
Meanwhile, one of the opposition parties in Nepal — Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) – has come out in open support for the ruling party over the new controversial map.
“We’re not raising this issue out of blue or at ‘someone’s instigation’ now. Nepal has been raising this issue of encroachment at all levels since 6 decades. We agreed to resolve this thru bilateral dialogue,” said Kamal Thapa, Chairman, RPP in a series of tweets Thursday.
“But, despite bilateral understanding India recently issued a new map covering Nepal’s territory and inaugurated the road built in this area linking China. So we’re compelled to take initiative to protect our national integrity. Please stop blaming Nepal,” he added.
According to Treaty of 1816 ‘areas east of river Kali belongs to Nepal’.Limpiyadhura, Kalapani n Lipulekh lie east of Kali. After 1962 India built army barracks n roads in these areas of https://t.co/bv5k9U7F49 who is to be blamed for ‘artificial enlargement of territory’?
— Kamal Thapa (@KTnepal) May 21, 2020