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India’s Neigbourhood Dilemma

India needs to re-work its strategy to work with new regime in Nepal which is pro-China
12:00 AM Mar 22, 2024 IST | K.S.TOMAR
india’s neigbourhood dilemma

A saying adapted from the play ‘The Tempest’ by William Shakespeare, “Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows” and political interests can bring together people who otherwise have nothing in common, hold true of Pushpa Kamal Dahal, ’Prachanda’ who has joined hands with his arch rival and political enemy, Ex-prime minister, K.P.S.Oil to stick to the Nepal’s PM chair for 3rd time in the span of 15 months.


In view of the Pro China government in Maldives and enmity with Pakistan, there is a serious danger of Nepal slipping away from India’s influence which precedes formation of new coalition government dominated by communists who are ideologically committed to Dragon.


An unexpected turn of political events in Himalaya Kingdom and mastery of ‘Prachanda’ to manipulate the volatile and uncertain situation in his favour, may be a big self-centred achievement but it is being viewed as a bad omen and premonition for India and the United States.



Political observers feel that Nepali Congress was a coalition partner of Prachanda but both fell out on ticklish issues which prompted the prime minister to embarrass Oli though both are known for their personal animosity to each other.


The previous regime was dominated by Pro India party, Nepali Congress, but the scenario will undergo a sea-change hence India needs to re-work its foreign policy priorities to have normal relations with Nepal. 2nd, India will have to be careful about the future of power agreements which were signed during Prachanda’s visit to New Delhi last year.


A trilateral power agreement became a reality after several years of stalemate which would ensure the import of 10,000 MW of power from Nepal to India for 10 years thereby earning thousands of crores of revenue and subsequently providing an advantage of additional availability of electricity for consumers in India.


It will enable Nepal to start the import of power up to 60 MW to Bangladesh through India. At the same time, Nepal and India had described it as a path breaking event as buyers and sellers can sign power agreements for 25 years and Nepal can visualize its prosperity through energy export to India or other countries. Experts say that the new communists’ regime may not upset this power agreement which is beneficial to people of both nations.


India had launched the Agneepath scheme on June 15, 2022 which was extended to Nepal also but it is still in limbo in Himalayan Kingdom owing to certain reservations. Field reports suggest that there are unemployed youths who may be keen to join the army as Agniveers but two previous governments had dragged its feet and the third one may not be different.

The Indian army had planned to recruit 40,000 Agniveers in 2022 and army chief Manoj Pande had made it clear to withdraw the vacancies if the decision was not filled by the government but nothing has been done so far hence it will be a big challenge to the new government to accept or reject the scheme. Nepal general elections were held in Nov, 2022 but Agnipath scheme is still hanging in fire as some retired generals in Kathmandu have opposed the scheme.

Oli’s party may create a hindrance and it may turn towards China which may be problematic to India. The scheme is regulated by the 1947 Tripartite Treaty on Recruitment between Britain, India and Nepal hence Nepal believes that it has been violated by the Agnipath scheme.


Oli is known as ‘India Baiter’ who will get yet another opportunity to push Nepal towards China. Dominance of Oli faction may prove problematic to India because former PM had brought Nepal-India ties to the lowest ebb when a map was redrawn showing Indian territories like Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura as its territories which had infuriated India and it had out rightly rejected this mischievous move. India needs to keep watch on this issue also. Experts had attributed Oli’s actions to Chinese strategy to unsettle age-old ties between India and Nepal which will be at work again.


Observers feel that the approval of the citizenship bill was seen as an attempt by the previous Prachanda-Deuba government to exhibit its closeness to India which had infuriated China. Second, Prachanda chose India over China for his maiden visit in 2022 which had sent a good signal as it proved fruitful which was evident from the signing of seven power and trade agreements thereby benefiting people of both countries.

Prachnda had refrained from touching the ticklish issue of boundary dispute. But in the changed scenario, preference may be given to China as both top leaders Viz. Prachanda and Oli are having communist ideology which is in consonance with Xi Jinping’s principles.

Prachanda and Oli are diehard communists who will feel comfortable in dealing with their brethren in Beijing. China’s attempt to wean away Nepal, Maldives and Pakistan should worry India which needs to re-work its foreign policy in league with America to check the growing influence of China in the region which is not in our interest on long–term.

(Writer is political analyst and having six-year experience of covering Nepal for a premier English national daily)