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India, a natural Nepal pal

Hands off New Delhi policy towards Kathmandu vis-à-vis expansionist China will work wonders for Prachanda’s regime


Nepal is on tumult. As expected, a big chunk of China inspired Maoists and Marxists that failed to co-exist previously have got back to rule the mountain kingdom that have seen about ten swearings-in and out in as many years.

Maoist guerrilla Pushpa Kumar Dahal seems to have not learnt bitter lessons  of 2017 when he aligned and broke off from Communist Party of Nepal (Marxist – Leninist) led by Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli.


Thanks to opportunistic political saga unfolding in Nepal, Dahal who’s popularly known as ‘Prachanda’ ditched his latest ally Nepali Congress and returned to CPN – ML for forming a government primarily to assume Prime Ministerial position on Monday.

In fact, Dahal represents the oft quoted saying that politics is an art of possibilities played very bold. Dahal seems to have made most of these possibilities to ascend for the third time to become Prime Minister of Nepal in last few years.

His key lieutenants led by Deputy General Secretary from the Communist Party of Nepal – Maoist Barsha Man Pun had headed for Beijing even as counting of votes after November 20 elections threw up the possibility of a hung Parliament.

While avowed reason was Pun’s ‘illness’, his political engagements with Communist Party of China (CPC) seem to have reportedly led to the breakup of pre-electoral alliance of Nepali Congress – CPN Maoist Centre. It was quickly followed by forging of a new alliance of comrades from all shades and denominations pushed aggressively by CPC.

CPN – ML leader K.P.Sharma Oli’s inroads and linkages with CPC leadership also seem to have worked well in pushing the Nepali Congress into opposition space notwithstanding the latter being single largest party with 89 members in 275-strong Parliament.

Big question in the melee is whether Dahal aka ‘Prachanda’ have his way to run Nepal’s affairs without being a lacky to China? Dice are cast given that Beijing’s proxy K.P.Sharma Oli would like to take all important political, economic and strategic calls relating to China and India. This uneasy alliance between Prachanda and Oli forged by forces in Beijing may find it difficult to find a working relationship given the bad blood that flew in the earlier government and in run up to the campaign.

From India’s perspective, Nepali Congress being out of power may be a big disappointment. But, it will have to find ways to work out a nuanced relationship with the new dispensation that’s bound to assert the China way. In fact, Prachanda with his independent views that are equidistant from both China and India may be the biggest bet. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the first global leader to congratulate Prachanda on his appointment as his Nepalese counterpart through a twitter post.

Secondly, a hands-off approach towards Nepal which has been the centre of India’s engagement with Kathmandu till date, should continue to guide the civilizational partners. Continuing with the time tested 1925 Indo-Nepal pact in ‘spirit and content’ without interference from third party will be the biggest challenge.

Thirdly, India being trusted economic and development partner, should continue to engage with the new Nepali government irrespective of machinations attempted by K.P.Sharma Oli for his masters in Beijing.

Fourthly, political uncertainty is bound to continue given the multiple partners in the coalition and the aspirations that they bring to the table rather than the value, ideas and content to the new government. Keeping close tabs on political developments, interest groups and policy matrix will work well for India.

Fifthly, Beijing is bound to push itself hard this time round to edge out India and attempt a ‘virtual occupation’ through Belt and Roads Initiative apart from taking control of the country’s hydroelectric power generation assets. More than all that forced DNA sampling of Nepali population is likely to be done ala what is being Tibet as part of its strategic and expansionist thrust.

Sixthly, India will have to work overtime to keep even-keeled relations with Nepal that’s been its partner from milk, vegetables to oil needs. More than all that, the two countries’ ‘Sanatan dharmic linkages’ will have to be celebrated and embellished thereby reinforcing the unalienable nature of the two people’s relationships.

Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi is to be believed, Beijing proposes to work with India for steady and sound growth in bilateral relations. In this backdrop, not meddling with India’s civilizational partners like Nepal could work as the starting point.

Nepal’s political leadership from across the spectrum will have realize that its interests were intertwined with that of India as an all-weather friend that can work wonders in South Asia.

(Author is Director & Chief Executive, Centre for Integrated and Holistic Studies, a bipartisan think tank based in New Delhi)

2 thoughts on “India, a natural Nepal pal”

  1. Pingback: Stability or chaos, What next in Nepal? – CIHS – Centre for Integrated and Holistic Studies

  2. Pingback: Maoist guerrilla turned Hindu protagonist? – CIHS – Centre for Integrated and Holistic Studies

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