A Nepalese Perspective: Oli's Exit is Seen as Indian Interference
KATHMANDU: Thanks to the untimely, expected exit of now ousted K.P. Oli on Sunday evening, few mainstream Indian media were quick to perform the celebratory dance. That news of the Indian government’s victory resonated through the National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval’s alleged remark that Nepal was back in the den of Indian hegemony.
This move has definitely given a strategic boost to India as it was desperate to topple the United Marxist-Leninist (UML) government led by K.P. Oli. What the Modi government has failed to understand is that continuous interference in Nepali politics might not result in positive results.
Oli was seen as a resisting force against India and the transit deals he signed with China was perceived as a threat for the southern neighbor. Now Nepal has already witnessed 22 Prime Ministers in 26 years of so-called democracy post-1990. There is speculation that Nepal is veering into uncertainty amid yet another unstable political structure. Some critics have argued that Nepal needs an elected presidential system like that in the United States. Few have also stressed that the current proposed federal system cannot succeed.
President of Nepal, Bidhya Devi Bhandari, has summoned parliament to elect the new government in seven days. It would be interesting to see as how this will unravel. The national sentiment is divisive—as opposition and Madesh parties cheered for the new change—whereas the common Nepal regret that Nepali politicians really don’t care about economic prosperity and stability of the nation.
What the Indian media, intelligentsia, and current Modi government have failed to understand is that the social media has made the news accessible to Nepali youths, who have formed an opinion against what they see as the bullying and interfering nature of New Delhi. This has fed into a heightened anti-India sentiment in Nepal.
It is time that India comes out of a colonial paranoia. And Nepali leaders wake up to the fact that they can no longer treat Nepali citizens as invisible.
While former PM Oli has been deemed as someone who stood up against India’s bullying and signed a transit treaty with China—his government merely stood on the basis of making India and Madesh the external enemy. Besides, India has perpetuated the idea that K.P. Oli’s faction was tilting towards the Dragon in full course. While India has celebrated what its media terms as the taming of the dragon, it is only with time that the Nepalese and Indian governments will really be able to know what unstable, unpredictable Nepali politics will unfold.
No proper predictions can be made as Nepalese have long struggled to understand the national politics. What they have understood now is that India is keen in micromanaging Nepal’s politics, and that will definitely accelerate the existing established anger among sections of Nepali youth against India. Perhaps New Delhi will manage to bring the future Nepal government on line, but will it be able to win the hearts of millions of alienated Nepali youths?
India’s hegemonic endeavor is understandable since it’s the sole regional power in South Asia. Nepal, the western powers, and its allies clearly understand that India doesn’t want to lose its strategic footing to China, with which it has gone to war in the past. But the Indian government cannot miss the point that destabilizing Nepal and forcing the nation to stay in poverty and underdevelopment will not fulfill its purpose in the longer run. As Nepalese see the rapid progress of its southern neighbor, things can quickly transform friendship into enmity. How will the Delhi government deal with this sentiment?
If India wants to maintain a cordial relationship with Nepal in the future, then it should step up as a good neighbor who helps the other one to escape from the quagmire of poverty and underdevelopment. It cannot assume that a northern neighbor would cheer for it forever when it sees its feet going down under. The time is ripe for the Delhi government yet again to fix what it had messed up.
If it cannot inculcate Nepal (positively) this time, and China tries to interfere somehow—every Nepalese would know that the coming governments’ fall is partly due to the Indian interference.
On the other hand, Nepali people have lost their trust and faith in their politicians already. It doesn’t matter who comes in the government next. Their chiasmus is same since 1990— Nepali politicians have been perceived as unruly kings of the north who don’t wish to better the poor life of the common, and that further complicates a chaotic scenario.
(Arun Budhathoki is a poet and fiction writer from Nepal.)