Nepal’s Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli cannot stop blaming India for his own woes. For the past two months almost, the 68-year old has been ratcheting irredentism against India. He even blamed India for spreading the Wuhan virus in Nepal and also got his police personnel to fire upon unarmed Indian citizens.
Oli tried using jingoism and imaginary border disputes against India in order to sidestep internal issues, but he failed. And now the PM of Nepal blames India for this too. He has alleged that New Delhi is plotting to overthrow his government. Needless to mention, he is facing internal party issues with the Prachanda faction protesting against him.
PM Oli said, “There is news coming from Delhi about this. Look at the meetings being organised in India against Nepal’s decision to amend the Constitution to place the revised map of the country in the national emblem.”
PM Oli is playing the China card all over again. He said that in 2016 too he was ousted due to an external plot. He remarked, “I clearly remember that I was toppled when I signed transit agreement with China.”
Oli is getting paranoid and he is fear-mongering that Nepal will stand to lose if India gets him toppled. The Prime Minister added, “You must have heard that the Prime Minister will be changed in 15 days. If I am removed at this time, no one will dare to speak in favour of Nepal because that person will be dismissed immediately. I am not speaking for myself. I speak for the country. Our party, our parliamentary party will not fall into such traps. Those who are trying, let them try.”
But notwithstanding Oli’s paranoia, Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’, an ex-Maoist rebel and Chairman of the ruling Nepal Communist Party, himself can be described as a Chinese stooge. Yet, he has been critical of Oli’s style of functioning. His faction has cornered Nepal’s Prime Minister over the mishandling of COVID-19 crisis. Another issue driving a deep wedge in Nepal’s ruling party is financial aid under the United States-backed Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC).
Apparently, Oli wants to push for acceptance of American aid. But it is Prachanda who is playing spoilsport. Prachanda’s faction argues aid programme is a part of Washington’s Indo-Pacific strategy to limit Beijing’s influence in the region.
Let alone standing up for India’s interests, Oli and Prachanda might be racing with each other to gain favour with Beijing.
Prachanda might prevail over PM Oli as 30 out of 44 members of in the Standing Committee of the Nepal Communist Party are in his grip. But does that mean Prachanda is India’s man? Certainly not.
When it came to claiming sovereignty over India’s Lipulekh, Limpiyadhura and Kalapani, the Prachanda faction was just as vocal as the Oli faction.
In fact, Prachanda is originally more anti-India than KP Sharma Oli. Prachanda rose in the radical Communist movement in Nepal in the 1970s. Prachanda spent a large part of his life propagating that the Indian State is the biggest enemy of the Nepalese masses.
PM Oli, on the other hand, was never as radical as Prachanda. In fact, early on he was seen as India’s supporter in Nepal. In 1996, his own party, the Communist Party of Nepal’s Unified Maoist-Leninist (CPN-UML) and supported the Indo-Nepal treaty on Mahakali river water sharing. At the same time, Prachanda had picked up the gun as a rebel Maoist leader.
It is a different matter that the Congress and UPA’s Nepal policy was guided by domestic politics and influence of the pro-China leftist parties.
Prachanda used the Indian State when he wanted to join mainstream Nepalese politics and move from bullet to ballot. But he never supported India’s cause. When he became the Prime Minister of Nepal for the first time in 2008, Prachanda made it a point to travel to Beijing first and New Delhi later.
Prachanda had also tried to remove Nepalese Army Chief Rookmangud Katawal in 2009. The General was seen as close to India. Communists have a habit of interfering in Hindu temples. Thus, he had tried to remove Indian priests in Pashupatinath with Nepalese ones.
Prachanda had used the Indian State but then Oli too had used the Indian State. This is what the Nepalese Communists were doing in the pre-2014 era. They would seek support from the Indian State when in crisis, but once in power they warmed up to China.
Oli himself turned against India only after 2015, maybe because ‘the Chinese offer was bigger than the Indian one’. And anyway, he feared that we would get unseated owing to his little wars with the Prachanda faction, therefore whipping up anti-India sentiment was a go-to option.
Oli can blame India as much as he wants. But here is the real thing- New Delhi doesn’t want to interfere and has zero hopes from either of the two leaders. In fact, pushing India out of the picture was essentially the rationale behind the merger of Prachanda’s and Oli’s Communist parties in 2018. And this holds true even today.
India will wait and watch. If the Nepal Communist Party implodes then so be it.