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Good neighbours

New Delhi must stay on the sidelines as Nepal gears to elect another prime minister.

By: Editorial | Published: July 28, 2016 12:00 am

In less than a week, Nepal should have a new prime minister — its 24th in 26 years. The unlamented resignation of Khadga Prasad Oli this week tells us something about the hubris of those charged with leading the country’s complex, multi-ethnic democracy. For New Delhi, though, the story ought to also be a cautionary tale, about the perils of using its patronage and power to influence events in that country.

Oli, under whose leadership Nepal’s relationship with New Delhi plummeted to an all-time low, was, in key senses, a monster of India’s own making. Following the decision of Nepal’s Maoist leadership to enter democratic politics — a decision India backed — New Delhi’s relationship with former guerrilla leader Pushpa Kumar Dahal “Prachanda” became increasingly fraught. Fearing that Prachanda hoped to establish a one-party state with Chinese backing, New Delhi began supporting other communists. Key among them was Oli, who had enjoyed a good relationship with New Delhi in the past: The old-guard communist received funding for projects in his constituency, backing for his party work, and even help with his medical treatment in New Delhi.

The September 2015 constitution, which was seen as disenfranchising Nepal’s plains people, was to mark a breaking point in Oli’s relationship with the Narendra Modi government. Oli defied New Delhi’s pressure to accommodate the demands of the Madhesis, people living in Nepal’s plains who are linked by kinship and caste to Bihar. Violence flared, and after police shot dead more than 40 protesters, New Delhi not-so-secretly backed a blockade of transport routes to Nepal’s hills by the Madhesis. As hardship grew in Nepal’s hills, with the blockade causing fuel shortages and inflation through the winter, Oli responded with ugly chauvinism, casting the Madhesis as agents of an India determined to turn Nepal into a colony.

In May, though, the wheel began to turn again. Prachanda feared that Oli’s Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist) had begun eating into the constituency of his own Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre). He was also concerned that the government was not acting to ensure the termination of criminal cases against his cadre, related to the civil war in the country. Diplomatic pressure from China deferred, but did not reverse, Prachanda’s decision to bring down the government. New Delhi did well to watch these events from the sidelines — and must continue just that policy. In the coming months, the new government — likely, a complex alliance between the Nepal Congress, Prachanda’s communists and small parties — will struggle to heal ethnic wounds. New Delhi weighing in on one side will make its task harder — and, in the end, subvert India’s real national interest, a stable Nepal.

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  1. Rajeshwar Acharya
    Aug 2, 2016 at 3:55 pm
    Critical
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    1. Rajeshwar Acharya
      Aug 2, 2016 at 3:56 pm
      Needs critical reading....
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      1. K
        K. K.
        Jul 28, 2016 at 3:03 am
        Delhi wanting stability in Nepal is being more and more questioned in Kathmandu. What can Delhi do to show that it actually does want stability in Nepal, rather than just making a statement about " wanting stability in Nepal ".
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        1. Tilak Shrestha
          Jul 28, 2016 at 8:01 pm
          This is most misleading yellow journalism. Here are the facts.lt;br/gt;I. The consution was promulgated by Honorable President Dr. Ram Baran Yadav along with Honorable Vice-President Parmanand Jha, both Madheshi. On the another hand, all 4 of the agitating leaders Mahendra Yadav, Rajendra Mahato, Mahanta Thakur and Upendra Yadav, are election losers in their own consuencies. lt;br/gt;II. The consution is approved and signed by over 90% of the legislators.lt;br/gt;III. Madheshi Morcha does not represent Madheshi people: Terai or Madhesh makes only about 17% of Nepalese area. We have 240 electoral consuencies. Out of which 8 are reserved for Himalayan region. The remaining 232 consuencies are divided equally into 116 each for Hill and Madhesh regions. That is 17% of Madhesh area gets 50% of representation. Out of 116 legislators of Madhesh only 11 are opposed to the new Consution. Where is injustice or under-representation? Morcha pretends to represent Madhesh with support of only 11 legislators. lt;br/gt;IV. All people living in Terai are not Madheshi. There are indigenous people: Tharu, Dhimal, Rajbanshi, Satar, Danuwar, Darai, Kumhal, Majhi, Raji and others; and hill people moving south within own country. lt;br/gt;Contrary to the Indian propaa, the naturalized Nepalese citizens of Indian origin have exactly same rights and responsibilities as any other Nepalese citizens. They can be even ministers or generals, except President and Head of Consutional bodies. Their children do not even have that restriction. lt;br/gt;All Nepalese had to suffer due to illegal and immoral Indian blockade. Our industries and hospitals suffered. Nepal / Oli government had no choice but to diversify our trade with China. lt;br/gt;Recently, India engineered ousting of working government of Honorable PM Oli, but putting together the terrorist Maoists and corrupt Nepali congress. What you forget is people will not forget and next election will show how much we appreciate Indian machination.lt;br/gt;Maoists Prachanda, which killed over 17000, poor Nepalese people are supported by India, not by China. lt;br/gt;The pea brained Indian leaders do not realize that Independent, Hindu Democratic Nepal is a brother to India. On the other hand, a Communist and Christian Nepal will be a permanent migraine. Unfortunately, India is pushing Nepal to just that corner.
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