• Ashu Bisht

Nepal Amid The Tug War Between India and China | Nepal's Political Situation

Nepal is located between the two Asian giants and it has been closer to India, as they share deep cultural and economic ties. But over the years, India has seen China’s growing influence on Nepal as not only related to trade and commerce but a part of China’s political strategy.

"After Nepalese prime minister, K.P. Sharma Oli won a victory in the elections of 2017, his government has been plagued by uncertainties due to a power struggle between him and former Maoist leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal, also known as Prachanda."

On 15th June, The Diplomat questioned, Is Nepal now courting India and Ignoring China? So, in this blog, we will provide you a glimpse of the tug of war between Indian and China over Nepal.

Let’s have a look at 2018-2020 political issues in Nepal

In international politics, there are no permanent enemies and no permanent friends. What remains is the only interest of the country. Though Nepal was shaking hands with China, over a political dispute, Nepal is again trying to be in a good talk with India. Nepal politics was in the news after K.P. Oli became prime minister.

According to The Kathmandu Post, ‘Opposition alliance moves court against House Dissolution’.

What happened in 2018 in Nepal?

Nepals’ two main communist parties, the Communist Party of Nepal-United Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML) and the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist Centre (CPN-MC), formed an electoral alliance, leading them to win a near two-thirds majority in Parliament. A unified communist party was created to make strong decisions.

K. P. Sharma Oli built one of the strongest governments in Nepal in decades. India was not happy with the communist alliance. After that Nepal’s relations with India went south. China took advantage of it and deepens its involvement in Nepal’s domestic politics.

Once K.P Sharma Oli became the prime minister, the first foreign visit was done by Pakistan Prime Minister PM Shahid Khaqan Abbasi. And on the other hand, China’s closeness with Nepal was increasing.

According to Rising Nepal, ‘there was news about CPC leader return home. Song was in Nepal to participate in the ‘Ideological Discussion’ between the CPC and Nepal Communist Party on the CPC’s opinion on Xi Jinping thought’.

What happened in 2019?

In October 2019, Xi Jinping visited Nepal and signed more than 20 agreements. He also warned that “anyone attempting to split China will be crushed.” In the meanwhile, the relationship between India and the USA was getting better.

There was news in the Indian media suggesting a three-front war in India. But things changed drastically.

K.P.Oli provoked India a lot during 2018-2020. He said Kalapani was a part of Nepal, he mocked the Indian national emblem and said the Indian variant of Coronavirus is more dangerous than the Chinese Coronavirus variant. He also claimed that the Hindu deity Rama was born in Thori in Nepal but not in Ayodhya in India. In 2021, he claimed that yoga was invented in Nepal, not India.

What happened in 2020?

In the late 2020s, there was a rift in the Nepal Communist Party. Leaders such as former Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal and CPN-UML leader Madhav Kumar Nepal joined hands to oust KP Oli from power.

The Chinese ambassador visited Nepal so that there is peace in NCP. CPC asked K.P.Oli to step down and resign so that there is no split in NCP. However, K.P. Oli pulled off a surprise and draw a red line by saying if he doesn’t stay as a Prime Minister, he is open to a split in the Communist party.

Oli reached out to India

Oli reached out to India and signaled interest in fresh talks. New Delhi responded by sending the top officials including Indian Army Chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla, and Research and Analysis Wing chief Samant Kumar Goel.

Oli has now aligned himself with India’s ruling dispensation. He allotted huge funds to the Pashupatinath temple, a Hindu temple in Kathmandu. He gave interviews to Indian television channels considered pro-government and quoted Sanskrit verses liberally.

But Oli’s pro-India tilt has had negative repercussions for Nepal. Nepal was totally dependent on India for COVID-19 vaccines and neglected help from other countries. When India could not deliver as promised when its second wave of infections swept the nation, Nepal has gone through a severe shortage of vaccines.

However, China is persisting with its geopolitical manipulation in Nepal. Their effort of building a solid communist bloc in Nepal continues.

Nepal political party is fractured, India is trying to charm the right-wing forces in Nepal and China is wooing Nepal’s left-leaning ideologies. Nepal is poised for ideological polarization. Only time will tell whether this polarization will help the country achieve stability or push it to the brink further.