NEPAL – Foxy Neighbour of INDIA


Sher Bahadur Deuba inherits a politically and demographically divided Nepal as the Prime Minister of the
11 year old Himalayan Republic. Deep rifts exists between the “dark-skinned” Madhesis and the “fairskinned”
upper caste Bahun- Chettris” of Kathmandu Valley, with whom New Delhi has been doing business,
since it bailed out King Tribhuvan in 1950. India had supported the Jan 2006 Andolan against the monarchy which forced the King Gyanendra to hand over power to the people’s government. Madhesis are 19.3 % of
Nepal’s 28.5 million population and out of these, half of Madhesis live in the Terai region. India had supported the 135 days blockade they mounted from October 2015 to February 2016, to demand their democratic rights of fair representation in Parliament and other state organs, on the basis of population or the one- man -one – vote principle. Forty Five people died in the agitation and all of Nepal , especially the Terai region, suffered terrible hardships as essential supplies grew scarce.
Chinese Alliance to checkmate India
Kathmandu reacted in an unpredictable manner surprising India. The elite led by, then UML Prime
Minister KP Oli approached China during the blockade and allowed the Chinese dragon to expand its strong wings to engulf the whole of Nepal, which is strategically situated as a buffer state between India and China.
KP Oli openly wooed China to discourage India from supporting the Madhesis in their struggle for parity with other Nepalese. He back -tracked from the promise given by the previous PM, GP Koirala that the Nepal’s Constitution would guarantee the Madhesis, Tharus, janjatis and others, the same rights as the people of the “hills” who have traditionally exercised power. The declaration of the Constitution in September 2015 triggered the Madhesis agitation.
The then Finance Minister Kamal Thapa promised the Chinese in March 2016 that Nepal would allow them to open another Consulate in the picturesque hill town of Pokhara. Beijing had already tempted Prime Minister Oli by offering him Nepali consulates in Lhasa and Guangzhou. Oli also agreed to open two more branches of the ‘People’s Bank of China’ in Nepal’s Terai region, over and above its Lumbani Branch. In this region, China is already helping Nepal to revamp the birth place of Lord Buddha and turn it into a grand tourist spot. As part
of the package offered to Nepal the ‘Chinese Northwest Civil Aviation Airport Construction Group’ is building the ‘Gautham Buddha International Airport’ in Bhairahawa. China’s intention was to win over the Nepalese people permanently and freeze the goodwill traditionally enjoyed by India. Nepal was the only Hindu Nation in the world till the Maoists declared a rebellion to de-throne the king and establish a people’s government.
Oli’s honeymoon with China received a set- back, when Pushpa Kamal Dhahal or ‘Prachanda’ took over as PM. Though he was a hardcore Maoist, he put the Chinese bank projects on hold. Perhaps, it was because Prachanda was covertly helped by India in 2005 in his bad times, when the Communist leader was hunted by King Gyanendra. He was staying underground in the neighbourhoods of Delhi and Noida. However in the game of politics there are no permanent bed partners. Prachanda was seen leaning on to China again.
Prachanda’s deputy Prime Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara flew to Beijing to sign on the Belt and Road initiative. For the first time , Nepal agreed to have allied military exercises with Chinese Red Army. Chinese were pouring money into Nepal, announcing projects everywhere, including in our sensitive border region of Terai.
Deuba’s ascension to the PM’s chair last week, for the fourth time in his political career, again has been a game changer for India. ‘The political musical chair’ game orchestrated by India, made sure that a pro-Indian Prime Minister had taken over the reins of the himalayan nation. The strong rumour in Kathmandu that India pulled strings in the back stage for this political upheaval seems to have some truth. Delhi hopes that Deuba, an able Nepali Congress leader will amend the constitution on the provisional boundary question as the Madhesis have long demanded, and keep the advance of red dragon at bay in Nepal.

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