When Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli was elected Nepal’s prime minister for the first time in 2015, a sense of chill had started descending on the bilateral ties between India and Nepal. Oli’s election brought a Communist government in the Himalayan nation.
But if the first nine-month tenure saw a defiant Oli challenge India on many issues, New Delhi took solace in his moderate Communism the second time around, when he was back as the PM in 2018 with the support of former Maoist rebels. Delhi hoped Oli would have the skills to balance Nepal’s relationship with two of its gigantic neighbours – India and China.
But that notion has now disappeared in Delhi’s diplomatic and strategic communities with Oli doing the unexpected: taking India head-on.
From ridiculing India’s national emblem to changing Nepal’s political map for the first time in many decades, Oli set off a chain of events that few in Delhi had anticipated. This is why Nepal’s Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli is ThePrint’s Newsmaker of the Week.
Also read: Indian politicians, media focusing on ‘Hindu’ Nepal is not only pointless but harmful too
When India didn’t act
The new map of Nepal shows the disputed regions of Kalapani, Limpiyadhura, and Lipu Lekh, which fall on the east of Mahakali river, as part of Nepal’s territory.
K.P. Sharma Oli, who had spent 14 years in jail (1973-1987) for opposing the monarchy, proudly claimed in Nepal’s parliament that he would “reclaim” the disputed region at “any cost”.
While it is true that Oli enjoys a considerably comforting relationship with China than he does with India, New Delhi cannot put the blame singularly on the Nepal PM for not resolving the boundary matter diplomatically when the time was right.
The alarm bells had started ringing in 2018 when Oli came to power for the second time. But New Delhi chose to look the other way despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s repeated assertion on ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy.
India had got a taste of Oli’s style of governance in 2015 itself when his government succeeded in promulgating Nepal’s new constitution, which New Delhi saw as being flawed because it allegedly did not cover the aspirations of a section of people from the Terai region – Madhesis and Tharus.
This led to a massive border blockade by the Madhesis and Nepal’s other ethnic minorities in 2015, which allegedly had India’s “support”, and marked a sharp change in India-Nepal ties.
And yet Oli, in his second tenure, was crediting himself for bringing in “peace, stability and prosperity” in Nepal, and thereby ending the cycle of “political uncertainty and frequent change of governments.”
Also read: Not Nepal map, the real conflict is within KP Oli’s Communist Party
An ultra-nationalist who once was pro-India
Last year, in his address to the Oxford Union Society, Oli had the democratic system of governance. “We must admit that there is no single formula of democracy and no fixed model of development,” he had said, adding that “democracy, at times, becomes a formality and a rhetoric, not substantive and people-centred”.
A feisty teenager Oli, who hailed from Nepal’s Jhapa district bordering India, started rising in active power politics after he proved his mettle in the ‘Jhapa revolt’ or the peasant uprising against landowners in 1969 that “shook the country awake”.
When he was released from prison in 1987, Oli began to consolidate the Left front and launched the Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist Leninist).
Oli was seen as pro-India for the role he played in 1998 during the Mahakali Treaty, which many Nepalese still believe was an unequal water-sharing agreement and a betrayal.
“An ultra-nationalist that Oli has now become, he is trying to correct that historic wrong. He is now trying to go down in the history of Nepal as this leader who solved all problems of the country. This is like a ‘Ramban’ (panacea) for him now,” a former Indian intelligence official, who was posted in Nepal, said on the condition of anonymity.
According to the official, while China has no role to play in Oli’s recent overzealousness with the new map, Oli is “confident” of Beijing’s support in provoking India.
Also read: With strong leaders like Rajapaksa, Hasina, Oli, is India losing dominance in South Asia?
Creating a difficult path
Many within the strategic and diplomatic circles say that Oli, in his zest to outdo his once friend but now adversary Pushpa Kumar Dahal ‘Prachanda’, is creating a scenario wherein the road ahead with India will be “arduous and difficult”.
This explains him ridiculing India’s national emblem, the Lion Capital, and its motto ‘Satyameva Jayate (truth alone prevails)’. Oli wondered if New Delhi was now following the motto of “simheva jayate” (lion wins).
“Such a speech is intemperate. It only makes the road ahead between India and Nepal arduous and difficult. But because it is an important relationship we should ignore it for the sake of the relationship. We cannot afford to be at loggerheads with each other,” said veteran diplomat Jayant Prasad, who was India’s former envoy to Kathmandu.
When Prachanda was the Prime Minister of Nepal, Oli played a key role between New Delhi and Kathmandu. But now, faced with tremendous pressure from intra-party troubles, Oli is hardening his stance against India in an unprecedented manner.
Views are personal.
Burning Nepal flag and blockading Nepal 3 times is one of indian misadventures that should be kept in mind.
Another indian misadventures is toppling democratically elected government by RAW
TheShit has been glorifying Oli Sharma for extend so it can keep India under humiliation process according to its agenda. How dare this chief media to call the emblem mocking without evidence.
Due to abrupt closure of nightmare De Mo Nepal unable to swap around Rs.350/-crores worth of INR 500/1000 currency notes with our country. India reluctant to cooperate on this issue also damaged the economy of tiny country. I don’t know whether the issue resolved amicably as on date.
Nepal, like Pakistan, is now a Chinese proxy.
Nepal, is a Chinese Proxy ever since Sonia Gandhi and Maunmohan Singh backed the Communists against the Monarchy, is protesting India strengthening its defense infrastructure against China which is an impediment to Chinese designs on Indian territory.
There was no mocking the emblem of India. It will be clear on seeing the video where he said that.
Nepal is a tiny country and it is like Sikkim and Butan in this respect compared with the gargantuan and very divided country India . The population of Nepal is like a drop in the bucket of India’s oceanic population. Thus to say Nepalese grab all jobs in India is sheer nonsense
Indians are missing behaveing with Nepal and Nepali people from long time by playing verious political games and their is also a big hand of India in civil war of Nepal which took millions of life’s which was already accepted by the Indian General bakshi and their is also big hand of India for the death of our former king who was treated like a God in Nepal India knew that they can’t make Nepali people agginst the king so they played a game and killed the king. India never wanted to develop industrys in Nepal so they stopped all factorys and companies of Nepal by buying the corrupt leaders of Nepal so they knew one day Nepal has very much high potential in hydro powers so they have signed such a treaty in which Nepal need to take a decision from India to take use their own rivers. Not only now lndia had captured our land its happening from long time in every border side of a India Nepal.
Wherefrom you got all these news? You did all these things and blaming India. Your racial and sectarian Govt. passed a constitution which goes against a great section of Nepali people and you are blaming India?
It’s time India shows its power and throws out all momo faced Nepalis out of the country and watch Nepal get into recession.
You are right.But that was done by congress party and not Bjp of present india.Bjp knows the nafarious agenda of communism and the people of India regret installing a communist govt there which was done by congress..Congress and Communists are enemies of India as well.
India has gotten a wake up call – now is the right time to throw these Nepali parasites out of India and drag them from their jobs and homes in India and kick them out. They are stealing our jobs and our lands . They take even subsidy meant for Indians!
For people thinking it’s Chinese influence alone, just see that it’s garnering support from all the parties. As some commenters think that Nepalese are everywhere in India, Indians are in Nepal too, from labour to powerful businesses. Most hold this type of misunderstanding and reach to judgemental conclusions,even people at diplomatic level. So it’s not as simple. Eg, Kids of Indian businessmen cycle to India side for school everyday and vice versa. No option but to sort out issues as fast as possible with Nepal, nothing else will work.
Nepal’s PM should not have commented on the Indian emblem. Nepal and India shares same religion and same worship for their Gods and also similar way of belief of peace and harmony. There are many Nepalis in India who perceive Indian citizenship and we should also not forget the great gorkha regiment of India . So PM Modi with his intellectual agenda should reply Nepal and continue to prevail healthy, peace and harmony. Also Nepal should be aware of China’s diplomacy which can be lethal to them. India and Nepal should be friends avoiding China. I am a Proud Indian
India had got a taste of Oli’s style of governance in 2015 itself when his government succeeded in promulgating Nepal’s new constitution, which New Delhi saw as being flawed because it allegedly did not cover the aspirations of a section of people from the Terai region – Madhesis and Tharus.-”
Nepal is a sovereign country. Do we exist to please New Delhi? Why should New Delhi have a say in our internal matters?
My dear Shreya, what would you say of the chinese ambassador micromanaging the politics of your communist Party ? China literally saved the communist government of Oli. Your PM makes it a duty to please China . What would you say about that as well? We have always stood by Nepal and have never directly interfered in Nepalese internal politics. And this is how you ungrateful people repay your old friend. Remember CCP is temporary, Karna is permanent.
Nepal government was massacring madheshis ,60 people killed. But sudden after blockade killing stopped. And blockade was right.
No in future you will please china
Nepal needs to be made to understand that how important is India for them…Riding on the back of China,K.P Oli may speak loud against India but will have to face the brunt of its own citizens backlash.
India must strategically counter China’s use of Nepal against India.
India has given extra-ordinary leeway to citizens of Nepal since 1947. Visit any Indian city and you find thousands of Nepalis engaged as cooks, guards and in many other jobs. Its time India withdraws such facilities for citizens of Nepal. No special treatment or confessions must be given to Nepal. Maybe that will put some sense in their heads.
So you think all Nepalese are in India working as guards and cooks, if you throw us out we will be out of jobs, huh? Do you know that there are more Indians working in Nepal than in India, check your facts, don’t generalise things. The argument is for our lost land, let politicians handle these matters, don’t downgrade yourself with the words you speak.
Whether it is Neighbourhood First or Act East, we should judge these assertions, like Make in India, by what actually gets delivered on the ground. It may have been possible in the past for India to install a regime of its choice in Kathmandu, or bend the one in power to its wishes. That may still be doable, at high cost. However, China is now a source of countervailing power. There are more flights from a Nepal to a China than to India. It delivers better on promises of creating infrastructure. Chinese highways are so good, it is possible for some Chinese ports to compete with Calcutta and Haldia to service Nepal’s foreign trade. The blockade has cost us the goodwill of ordinary Nepalese. We did not exchange their 500 and 1,000 rupee notes after demonetisation. Indian diplomacy has work to do in Kathmandu, under a new set of rules that are not written in Delhi.
india and nepal obviously have their problems to sort out, but in this particular case china is using nepal, i believe india needs to play its part very carefully and calmly, cheap heat speech will damage it farther, at least for people to people contact, india should work on that first.
Whatever his grievances with India may have been, by choosing to use unwarranted harsh words against India, Oli has done a disservice to his own cause.
India should ignore these comments.
Oli is on the path of Maldives’s Yameen, his own country men will boot him out.
Oli did a best thing because this not only the place where india capturing nepal land illigally.. This is the thing which we want and and thing about indian media sudharjaa bhaii tera trp ke chakkar main india ka hater jyadaa badraha hain..
Just intra-party struggle cannot explain Oli’s anti India outbursts. There has to be some other stronger reasons as well. Hopefully, we handle this maturely but teach Nepal a lesson it deserves. At the provocation of China, if every neighbor starts behaving intemperately like Nepal, it will be a difficult situation for us. As it is, India has made a big mistake by signing totally one sided Indus Water Treaty with Pakistan and we are now reaping its rewards! With Myanmar, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka as well Bhutan, we now need to ensure that we resolve all the outstanding issues, if any, in a time bound and just manner. This will ensure that we are then left with China (and its colony, Pakistan) to deal with in due course.
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