KP Sharma Oli and Nepal politics- why should it matter to India in 2021
Everyone says that the women’s world is full of drama, but hey! Have you turned pages of a history textbook?
Nepal has been going through political turmoil for a long time, making the parliament of Nepal nothing but a dramatic theatrical stage. The recent developments in the drama called ‘who will be the Prime Minister of Nepal’ former Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli came out as a loser. It’s supreme court reinstated its parliament, which was dissolved by President Bidhya Devi Bhandari on the advice of Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli. The Supreme Court then directed her to appoint Oli’s rival Sher Bahadur Deuba as the new prime minister.
How and why KP Sharma Oli rose to power in Nepal?
The rise and fall of KP Sharma Oli can be turned into a novel, and it will be a best seller. In 2018 government led by KP Sharma Oli and his allies came to power by securing two-thirds of the majority in the Parliament. Nepal is a landlocked Himalayan country surrounded by China and India. Since it has no access to the sea route, it has to depend heavily on the whims and wishes of its neighbouring countries to allow transportation and transit.
To avoid the blackmail of landlocked countries United Nations Conference on Trade and Transit of Landlocked Countries, UNCLOS lays down international rules so that landlocked countries can benefit from seaports. In 2015 India induced a 134-day long economic blockade against Nepal. This economic blockade created panic and scarcity, which led to an artificial price rise of essential items like kerosene, oil, food products etc.
It is alleged that India blocked the trade routes of Nepal because it did not budge for amendments in their constitution and refused to postpone the promulgation of the Constitution. The Constitution did not address the concerns of the Madhesi people in the Terai region of Nepal. Madhesis are people having Indian roots who live in the Terai region. The Madhesis are majorly Hindu. KP Sharma Oli stood against India like a true soldier, which transformed his identity into a national hero, a messiah who will save the people of Nepal from bully India
This move against India KP Sharma Oli, who belongs to the Communist Party of Nepal Unified Marxist-Leninist UML, moved closer to China. After winning the election, he proposed trade and transit agreements to address the shortage of essential items with China to prevent such blockage in future. Nepal moving closer to China was a smack in the face of Indian politics. Politics and instability go hand-in-hand because Nepal’s political stability has been sitting on thin ice for the last 30 years. To form a government UML and the Communist Party of Nepal under Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda joined hands.
Oli even promised to share the PM‘s chair with Prachanda. In his tenure, he promised improvement in the standard of living, building waterways connectivity with India, facilitating trade and transit via ship so that there is no blockade in future, central distribution of cooking gas, zero corruption, et cetera. To sum it up, he sold hopes of a rosy future to the Nepalese, which he failed to deliver.
Why did the Messiah KP Oli Sharma fall to the ground?
We all have seen movies where two people who are generally wicked join hands on the premise that they would share resources and power. As time passes morale and ethics of one person flies straight through the window, and he forgets about the promise made. This is exactly what happened in Nepal; PM KP Sharma Oli refused to vacate the seat for Prachanda as per their agreement. The refusal cost friction between Oli and Prachanda, and the holy matrimony of two political parties ended in an ugly divorce. In May 2021, ministers of Prachanda pulled out of the party; surprisingly, few ministers of UML also joined him.
After coming to power, Oli started bringing every investigation agency of Nepal in his control, like National Investigation Department, Revenue Intelligence, et cetera. This need to exercise control over truth delivering agencies raised suspicion. He also started upsetting the UML senior comrades and concentrated power in the hands of his followers. Sensing his downfall, Oli dissolved the Parliament on December 20, 2020, saying that the Parliament was hindering democratic working.
He was warned not to disband repeatedly by people from his party, legal experts and even opposition. Supreme Court at first did not dissolve the Parliament and ordered his reinstatement. Olibegan forcing activities that would lead to the dissolution of the reinstated Parliament. After failed attempts of proving majority Prime Minister Bhandari dissolved the Parliament again. President Bhandari, who was a close aide of Oli in this drama, drew criticisms and scrutiny. After going back and forth, the supreme court finally instated Debua as the Prime Minister, but uncertainty and instability loom over Nepali politics like a dark cloud at a distance.
Debua can lose confidence because UML dissidents are reportedly unifying their party before the trust vote. The Parliament can also move a motion for impeachment against President Bhandari and her actions, but they do not have two-third of the majority as of now. Since there is so much confusion, breach of trust and instability, Debua may be kicked out, but due to no alternate, he will be reinstated as a caretaker. He is ‘coming home’ no matter what! As for Oli, his glorious rise to power ended in utter shame.
What does the ousting mean to India?
The ousting can prove to be a boon or a bane for India ; it is upon India and how it engages in diplomatic relations with Prime Minister Debua and the people of Nepal. Political instability does not harbour a conducive atmosphere for growth, development, investment, economy et cetera. India now has a chance to be the supporter and mentor Nepal can look up to, thereby repairing the shattered image due to blockades. India did not see eye to eye with KP Sharma Oli because of his communist ideology and his inclination towards China. India can play the historical, geographical, and cultural ties card to mend relations.
India can invoke the loyalty of the people by playing the Buddhism card. It is important for Indian political stability and security that Nepal does not turn into an Indian enemy. India is at crossroads with China and Pakistan; having Nepal as an enemy would add fuel to the fire. India’s focus would then shift from growth and development to warding offattacks from enemy nations as Israel does. China has been trying to expand its global footprint by the world by Belt and Road initiative BRI. Nepal is considered a strategic point in this initiative. Nepal8s inclination towards China will finish the buffer zone status of Nepal, which is important for India.
Nepal is also the largest trading partner of India, and it is the largest source of foreign direct investments. Gorkhas, known as the best foot soldiers of the world, are recruited from hill districts of Nepal. India should use India Bangladesh to resolve border disputes with Nepal under International Law on Transboundary Water Disputes. India should refrain from meddling in Nepal’s internal politics as it did in 2015 to maintain a good image. China will try everything in its power to woo Nepalese so that Tibetans living in Nepal do not develop an anti-China opinions.
India has to balance China and Nepal so that its international position, trade, security, diplomatic ties are not hindered, and strategically beneficial relations are maintained.