A Magnetic Repulsion
- China used its influence with Prachanda to ensure that PM Oli does not lose his seat
- On the other hand, Oli is unhappy with India for having dealt with those seeking to oust him
Last week, with China’s interceding on his behalf, Nepalese prime minister Kharga Prasad Sharma Oli survived a bid to throw him out of power—underlining how the dragon has steadily come to gain leverage in the Himalayan nation. The events also foregrounded intense Sino-Indian rivalry over Nepal—for, in the run-up to the bid, a series of meetings of Nepalese leaders disenchanted with Oli had been held in Delhi, prompting him to cry foul. India’s ‘diplomacy’, such as it is, has come off worse in this instance, needless to add.
It's in this strained situation that, breaking from its usual stand-offishness vis-a-vis the internal matters of neighbours, China used its influence to convince United Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ to give up his bid for prime ministership for the sake of “left unity”. The deal was that Prachanda and his Maoist cadres would not be tried for “war crimes”; also, it seems, that he could get to be PM after Oli passes the budget.
“It’s no longer a question of China hobnobbing with disgruntled politicians,” says K.V. Rajan, former Indian ambassador to Nepal. “China today sees the opportunity to occupy the hearts and minds of a big chunk of people in Nepal, posing itself as a viable option to India.”
Sino-Indian rivalry over Nepal harks back to the Chinese overrunning of Tibet. The Indo-Nepal Friendship Treaty of 1950 brought the two countries into close...