Relevance: Recent political events in Nepal, probable reasons, and lessons for India
Synopsis: Unfolding of political events in Nepal in light of KP Oli’s tenure and possible lessons for India.
On July 12, 2021, the Supreme Court of Nepal passed a judgement in a case demanding that Sher Bahadur Deuba be made the Prime Minister. Although the parliamentarians had gone to the Supreme Court as Mr. Deuba had gathered enough support to become the Prime Minister of Nepal under Article 76(5) of the Constitution, President Bidhya Devi Bhandari refused to entertain it. Instead, the President re-appointed K.P. Sharma Oli as the caretaker Prime Minister till the elections that they decided to hold in October and November 2021 were concluded. This ends now.
Impact of the verdict
Supreme Court verdict has ended the collusion between Mr. Oli and Ms. Bhandari to continuously take decisions that were against the provisions of the Constitution.
- In the past, Mr. Oli’s popularity rose when he challenged India during the blockade in September 2015 and raised nationalism as an issue to emerge as the leader who could lead Nepal.
- A Stable government in Nepal: For the 2017 Federal and Provincial elections, the two major communist parties, the Nepal Communist Party (Maoist) and the Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist Leninist–UML), joined hands, and with a landslide victory, were to provide a stable government in Nepal in three decades. This coalition between the two parties had laid out some conditions, one of which was that Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda and Mr. Oli were supposed to rotate the prime ministership.
- Party in-fighting starts: The infighting within the ruling party that united in May 2018 began to surface in December 2019. Mr. Oli had, in two years of his rule, ensured that his kitchen cabinet ran the country while his image and international relations were being handled by prominent citizens who kept defending him till the end. He unleashed crony capitalism. Many business groups gained from his rule.
- Challenge to India: International relations witnessed a new low with Mr. Oli taking on India with an amended map of the country (Kalapani dispute), which only affected bilateral relations.
- Agreements with China: With China the agreements signed never saw the light of the day when it came to implementation. The complaints of Chinese investors in Nepal in terms of governance and bureaucracy have been no different than the complaints of others.
- Mis-handling of COVID pandemic: Handling of the novel coronavirus pandemic created a public outcry due to a lack of health-care facilities. He was personally dragged into the Nepal vaccine scam in the purchase of vaccines from the Serum Institute of India.
Lessons for India
The happenings in Nepal offer lessons for India:
- India should not push relationships through intelligence agencies and other indirect ways as it fails each time. (The blockade issue with Nepal)
- India needs to continue to build on people-to-people relationships and engage through official channels of bilateral platforms and diplomacy.