Editorial: Himalayan turbulence

New Delhi must closely monitor the emerging political drama in Nepal for a calibrated response, given the bilateral tensions

AuthorPublished: 12th May 2021  12:00 amUpdated: 11th May 2021  7:59 pm

The fresh political turmoil in Nepal, following Prime Minister and Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist leader KP Oli losing a confidence vote in Parliament, poses new diplomatic challenges to India. The emerging drama in the Himalayan nation will be closely monitored by New Delhi for a calibrated response, given the recent bilateral tensions. Political uncertainty is staring at the country at a time when it is grappling with a major second wave of coronavirus infections. Requiring to get 136 votes in the 275-member House of Representatives, Oli, who is facing the flak for his government’s inept handling of the pandemic, managed to get only 93 votes in the floor test. The Oli regime is also plagued by allegations of corruption. Oli, who rode to power by whipping up anti-India sentiments but later made amends to his policies, has been on the downswing since December last year when he got President Bidya Devi Bhandari to unilaterally dissolve the House. The President also announced fresh elections in April-May but the House was reinstated by the Supreme Court early this year. Last week, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre) — a key faction led by Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ — withdrew support to the government, leaving it without a majority in the House. Oli’s party had split from former Maoist rebels in March after differences cropped up over its power-sharing deal, reducing the government to a minority. The emerging developments in the Himalayan nation are bound to have an impact on India, particularly against the backdrop of a slide in bilateral ties after the boundary row last summer under Oli’s leadership.

In order to establish his nationalist credentials, Oli had the constitution amended to incorporate a contested area into the official map of Nepal. In the heat of nationalistic passion, he ridiculed the motto of the Indian emblem as “Singhmev Jayate”, asserted that real Ayodhya was in Nepal and described the Indian strain of the coronavirus as more lethal. The ruling Nepal Community Party’s pro-China tilt is well known, so much so that Chinese ambassador Hou Yanqi tried her best to bring unity among warring factions of the ruling coalition. Once cornered in the intra-party feuds at home, Oli began clumsy efforts for rapprochement with India and extended an olive branch. A stable and peaceful Nepal is in the interests of India. It is for this reason that New Delhi chose to remain neutral to the rivalry between Oli and Prachanda factions. Political stability has always eluded Nepal. In 58 years, it had 49 prime ministers and saw many political systems, ranging from pure monarchy, elected government with monarchy and constitutional monarchy to a democratic republic but ruled by Communist parties.


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