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China braces to play dirty in Nepal

Delicate political applecart has the potential to throw up a storm given multiple coalition partners, communists &Maoists may go Beijing way!

Rohan Giri

Himalayan Kingdom Nepal is going through trying times as no single party would enjoy even simple majority in the Parliament following the November 20 elections.

Having said this, the five-party alliance led by Nepali Congress Sher Bahadaur Deuba is set to form the next government in the 275 member Nepali House as the five coalition partners began their power sharing formula in the new dispensation.


For a stable government to be sustainable, the alliance will have to get 138 of their candidates elected as members. This seems to be within the reach for the coalition in this Hindu majority state – Kingdom.

The results and trends indicate that Nepali Congress has emerged as front runner while the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) is at second place. Nepal Communist Party (Maoist Centre) follows it at third position and Nepal Communist Party (Unified Socialist) would have fourth largest block of elected members.

There are currently two significant coalitions in the election, one led by Nepali Congress (NC) and the other by the Nepal Communist Party (United Marxist-Leninist). Apart from this, the National Independent Party entered the fray for first time with its own set of candidates.

Nepal Communist Party (United Marxist Leninist) made Nepal\’s territorial integrity as its campaign call. Its supremo K.P.Oli took upon himself to withstand pressure from purported India pressure. On the other hand, Nepali Congress party included the country\’s territorial conflict with China as its rallying point. International concerns on Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) were brought to national debate.

After a decade-long deadly Maoist insurgency followed by 10 years of political instability, Nepal adopted new constitution in 2015. This election is the second federal and provincial election in Nepal after the enactment of its constitution in September 2015.

Last five years of government have been in turmoil and instability owing to bickering and coups of a different variety. Internal power struggles and flipping sides by political leaders defined the instability in Nepal while the country evolved as an exciting full democracy in South Asia with its own unique character.

China\’s aggression in Nepal through its wolf diplomats and direct involvement in the political overturns bring to fore its expansionist streak. Case in point is the Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi\’s state visit to Kathmandu, transfer of the Chinese Ambassador to Nepal, and other high-level interactions in the midst of electoral process. This is typical to the Oligarchs driven Chinese Community Party and its general secretary Xi Jinping.

During O.P. Sharma’s term as Prime Minister in 2015-16 and 2019-21, Nepal’s engagement with China was elevated to one of strategic partnership. Chinese scholars believed that since the Nepali Congress took reins, the country progressively drifted away from China. Due to United States presence in Nepal and India being natural ally of the Himalayan Kingdom, Chinese strategists have been working overtime to gain full control on the country as was the case with Pakistan.

From Indian perspective, Nepali Congress led by Deuba may be the best bet as of now. New Delhi has been a benevolent partner in Nepal’s progress under the monarchy as well as the new democratic state.

India’s concern may accentuate in case communist elements within the majority coalition and maoist extremists driven opposition look at realignment to carve out a pro-China political formation and edge out Nepali Congress even after having emerged the largest party.

It is undeniable that during KP Oli\’s leadership, relations between Nepal and India deteriorated over a number of issues, including the modification of the map of Limpiyadhura, Lipulekh, and Kalapani.

The roti-beti culture of India and Nepal makes their relationship unique, and the open borders between the two countries provides the facility for citizens to move and manage trade and relationships, especially the Madhesis. During KP Oli’s tenure, he turned to China for supplies, signing a trade and transit treaty that led to the Chinese invasion of Nepali territory. Oli not only attempted to position himself against India to please China but willingly ignored China’s encroachment Nepal territory.

India believes in neighbor first policy and Nepal is the immediate neighbor. India has been Nepal\’s \”firm partner\” on the path to peace, progress, and development. This election is important for both Nepal and India to sustain the bilateral ties, cultural and civilizational relations, and geopolitical situation.

In this backdrop, China\’s mobilization of Nepal\’s communist parties may put India\’s long-standing relations in a bind. An unholy alliance between Deuba and Oli is being attempted as a way for China to have foothold in the new power structure.

Chinese encroachment in the Himalayan state is a challenge for New Delhi as well. Although Nepal elections outcomes are expected to benefit India, it entails strengthening interpersonal links and structurally incorporating Kathmandu into connectivity projects focused on sub-regional trade with India.

One would keep fingers crossed as the political slugfest in Nepal unfolds and Chinese dragon breaths down the Himalayan Kingdom’s neck.

(Rohan is a journalism graduate from Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC) New Delhi, and Manager Operations at CIHS.)

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