India-Nepal: what can be done to reduce the trust deficit?

With public mistrust of India already at a high, Oli's government is feeding rumours about the Indian hand meddling in the country’s affairs.

Written by Shubhajit Roy | New Delhi | Published:May 11, 2016 12:41 pm
k p oli, narendra modi, nepal, nepal govt, india nepal relations, anti india, india in nepal, indian govt, oli govt, modi govt, india news, nepal news, india nepal latest The need of the hour is to have a clear communication between the two political establishments in order to start a dialogue. (File/Express Photo)

An unstable Nepal is not in India’s interest. This is something India does not want but this is exactly what has happened after a few months of stability in the Himalayan country.

Nepal’s Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli was in a precarious situation last week as the Nepali Congress and Maoist leader Prachanda met, sparking off speculation that Oli’s days as PM were numbered.

Oli, suspicious of an Indian hand in destabilising his government, recalled his own ambassador in Delhi, a political appointee of the Nepali Congress. Oli reportedly mulled the expulsion of the Indian ambassador in Kathmandu but decided against it.

In India, South Block believes this is a clear case of “externalising” domestic political churning.

While there is no way to clearly establish the truth about the allegations by Oli’s government based on his suspicions, the anti-India narrative has considerable acceptability in Nepal. This has been reinforced in the last 12 months after India projected itself as its neighbour’s “saviour” following April’s devastating earthquake and the crisis that followed differences over Nepal’s new Constitution. The disruption of supplies to the landlocked country which led to extreme hardship added to the anti-India sentiment in Nepal.

With public mistrust of India already at a high, Oli’s government is feeding rumours about the Indian hand meddling in the country’s affairs. Nepal continues to play the China card which always makes India uneasy. Meanwhile, it is once again plunged into a political crisis.

The need of the hour is to have a clear communication between the two political establishments in order to start a dialogue and not to be swayed by their respective “suspicions” which will do more harm than good to the relationship.

In the current situation, the Nepal government should quickly reschedule the President’s visit, which was abruptly cancelled on the weekend, so that such a conversation at the highest level can take place and the trust deficit can be reduced.

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