Continuing Political Turmoil in Nepal and Opportunity for India

Synopsis:  Present Constitutional crisis in Nepal is an opportunity for India to engage with Nepal’s political leadership. It can help them to establish a stable democratic rule in Nepal.

Background
  • Recently, Nepal’s President had dissolved the House of Representatives (lower house) late at the suggestion of Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli.
  • The decision to dissolve the house is viewed as a partisan move that disregards the Constitutional morality of Nepal.
Recent developments leading to Political turmoil in Nepal
  • Oli (CPN(UML)), came to power with the support of Maoist Centre and enjoyed a near-absolute majority in the lower house.
  • In May 2018, the two allies merged to cement their alliance and created the Nepal Communist Party (NCP).
  • However, very soon there were disputes related to the power-sharing arrangement, worked out with Maoist leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’.
  • Mr. Oli (CPN(UML)) was reluctant to run the NCP along with Prachanda as a co-chair and soon ‘one person one post’ policy demand surfaced openly.
  • Amid rumours that Prachanda and Mr. Nepal (senior UML leader) were planning to move a no-confidence-motion against him, Oli got the President to approve dissolution of the House on December 20, paving the way for elections.
  • On March 7, the Supreme Court also overturned the UML-Maoist merger of May 2018 and ruled it invalid. This verdict allowed Mr. Oli to be in power.
  • Again, Mr. Oli was sworn in by President Bhandari on May 14 as Prime Minister. Article 76(3) permits the leader of the largest party to be sworn in and give 30 days to demonstrate majority.
  • But the Nepal lower house again stands dissolved after Mr. Oli failed to seek another vote of confidence.
  • Opposition leaders have challenged the House dissolution in the Supreme Court but its outcome is uncertain.
How Domestic politics of Nepal is affecting India- Nepal ties?
  • To distract the happenings in Nepal’s domestic politics, Oli raised the issue of Kalapani dispute with India.
  • India issued new maps following the division of the State of Jammu and Kashmir into Union Territories, Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.
  • Though the new Indian map did not affect the India-Nepal boundary in any material way, Mr. Oli used this opportunity to raise anti-India sentiment among Nepali citizens.
  • He raised the demand for restoring an additional 335 sq. km around Kalapani area.
  • Further, in May 2020 when Defence Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated the 75 km road through Kalapani that linked to the Kailash-Mansarovar pilgrimage route.
  • Oli to raise nationalist sentiment, got a new map of Nepal endorsed by the House and adopting a constitutional amendment to sanctify Nepal’s new territory.
  • This has strained India-Nepal relations in the last few months.

India has traditionally supported constitutionalism and multi-party democracy in Nepal. India needs to remain actively engaged with all the political actors, and avoid being perceived as partisan to ensure democratic rule in Nepal.

Source: The Hindu

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