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HomeOpinionOli's distrust of parliament isn't India's concern. China's meddling in Nepal is

Oli’s distrust of parliament isn’t India’s concern. China’s meddling in Nepal is

The ground reality in the wake of KP Oli's dissolution of the Nepal Parliament has three important aspects that India must carefully assess before considering its options.

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A distraught K.P. Oli, prime minister of Nepal, has once again outwitted his detractors. The hurried cabinet meeting, which Oli called to offset his party rivals’ bid to move a no-confidence motion against him, endorsed his decision to dissolve the Lower House of Nepal’s Parliament and call for fresh elections at a convenient date. The President of Nepal, Bidya Devi Bhandari, has accepted the cabinet’s decision and set the dates for elections in two phases, 30 April and 10 May 2021.

The ground reality in Nepal presents three important aspects that New Delhi should carefully assess before considering all the available options.

Also read: New Delhi must warn Oli govt. Allowing China to use Nepal for anti-India activities has costs

What India must keep in mind

The first is the extent of unethical political interventions made by China in the functioning of the K.P. Oli government. It is no secret that the Nepal Maoists had close connections with the Chinese Communist Party, and the Oli government had taken a number of decisions, believed to be at the behest of string-pullers in Beijing, that would result in strategic and security disadvantages for India.

The second feature of the present crisis is the weak or rather total absence of political alternatives. The Nepali Congress needs to pull its act together and much faster if it wants to emerge as an alternative in the country’s politics. Incidentally, when it came to the new map issue, the Nepali Congress also supported the Oli government. But thankfully, the commonality ends here. The Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) was a strong force during the monarchy days but does not seem to enjoy popular support anymore.

The third interesting aspect that is discernible in the recent past is the realisation among a section of the Communists of the need to keep equidistant from New Delhi and Beijing, and not overtly tilt towards China. This group may be small now but it is certainly not insignificant. Leaders like former prime minister Baburam Bhattarai are aware of the importance of remaining on the right side of India and not do anything to jeopardise the long-standing bilateral friendship between the two countries.

Also read: Nepal’s latest crisis and its unstable political history with 49 PMs in 58 years

The Communist split

While New Delhi will have to continue with its policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of another country, the extent of China’s overt and covert meddling in Nepal’s politics can be overlooked only at our peril. The Oli government has raised some issues for popular support but has shown very little or no consideration for India’s security concerns. A mere change in the dispensation in Kathmandu may not be sufficient to repair the damage. New Delhi will have to increase its engagement at all levels with Nepal to initiate a course correction.

Meanwhile, a number of Communist party members have moved the Supreme Court to nullify the presidential order and restore the Parliament. The court will probably go by the Constitution and allow the formation of a new government after the elections in April/May 2021. With this, the split in the Nepal Communist Party is also out in the open.

The group led by former PM Pushpa Kamal Dahal aka Prachanda and Madhav Kumar Nepal convened a special meeting and removed Oli from the party chairman post, appointing Madhav Nepal as their leader. They also passed a resolution to revive the Lower House of the Parliament. This is unlikely to happen, though, because Nepal’s Constitution does not seem to have any provision to reconvene the dissolved parliament. Their argument is based on a 2006 precedent, but the decision at the time was unanimous, taken by all political parties of Nepal.

Also read: China’s activities in Bhutan, Nepal should ring alarm bells in India. Does Delhi have a plan?

A troubled history

Nepal’s history seems to be replete with parallels, at times eerie. The tragic palace massacre of 2001, in which King Birendra and nine members of then monarch’s family were killed, has a parallel in the infamous ‘Kot massacre’ of 1846. Former prime minister Girija Prasad Koirala, who headed a majority government, dissolved the parliament in 1994 saying his party, the Nepali Congress, “did not support (his) policies and programmes”. Two Nepali Congress stalwarts, K.P. Bhattarai and Ganesh Man Singh, challenged the leadership of Koirala and sought the revival of the dissolved parliament but the Supreme Court disallowed it. Koirala lost the elections.

The 1994 election resulted in the formation of the Communist Party of Nepal-United Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML) coalition led by Manmohan Adhikari as prime minister. He too dissolved the parliament in 1995 saying his party and coalition partners do not support his policies, called for elections and lost. The next 15 years were marked with a series of short-lived governments, palace interventions and a terrible Maoist insurgency led by Dahal until his ‘army’ was disbanded and he joined the political mainstream. The coalition of various hues of Communists that supported K.P. Oli was not expected to last long given the inherent contradictions, both functional and ideological.

Strangely, K.P. Oli was also heading a majority government and dissolved the House citing lack of support from party leaders. The Supreme Court is likely to repeat history and so do the electorate by dumping the Communists. But time will tell which party and which neighbour will benefit.

The author is the former editor of ‘Organiser’. Views are personal.

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  1. No need for India to lose sleep over Nepal. Nepal has always been unstable with it’s squabbling ruling elite unable to sort out their own differences and prioritise their own country. If China wishes to jump into this quagmire so be it. All this will result in Nepalis complaining about China few years down the line, with nothing concrete to show for it. Let’s face it some countries are best left to their own devices. If Nepal wishes to cede territory to China or even be taken over by the Chinese it’s their choice. Let the Chinese have the headaches. Once China is in it will realise Nepal has nothing to offer just as it had nothing to offer to India.

  2. Our PM made a mess with Nepal foreign policy. Sushma swaraj supporting the blockage against Nepal by saying Roti aur beti ka rishta riles nepalis.

    • Modi did mess with everything messy.Observe what was India before him and the present status. He is a leader with mass following but just clueless as to what to do with it.That is the problem when the leader gains acceptance or popularity in negative way, by appealing to the base level instincts of people. After all people are generally gullible.They just follow the leader

  3. We Nepali should be more worried about India’s meddling in Nepal rather than China’s meddling in Nepal.
    “New Delhi will have to continue with its policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of another country”
    Don’t make me laugh.

  4. it is sad that india does not have a long strategic vision for relationship with its neighbours or for that matter in foreign policy.. it all depends on thw whims and fancies of the prime minster then in charge. for example manmohan singh was willing to turn a blind eye to all pakistani misendeavors in india just to sign a peace accord with them and try to earn a name in the history notwithstanding the fact that it is their army that always called the shots in their relationship with india. simillarly congress govt. was always hostile to srilanka govt. after rajiv gandhi assassination pushing them into china’s arms. simillarly NDA govt. pushed nepal again into china’s arms.
    this is one of the banes of democracy.

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