The results of Nepal’s Parliamentary Elections are yet to be announced, but India would hope that Sher Bahadur Deuba again accedes to the throne of Prime Minister in the Himalayan country.
There is a strong reason why India not only wants better but strong ties with Nepal; the relations between India and Nepal had ebbed during KP Oli’s tenure, while Deuba always vouched for strong ties with India.
The same was evident after he succeeded Oli in 2021 in a dramatic turn of events, he made his first visit to India as a prime minister early this year.
His visit was significant considering the relations between the map controversy over Lipulekh in 2020 when Oli was heading the country’s affairs.
How will Deuba's win benefit India-Nepal relations?
India worried over Nepal-China ties
India is mainly concerned about China’s large-scale presence in Nepal due to the open 1800-kilometre border, which is freely traversed by the citizens of both countries.
Further, China has been investing heavily in Nepal and working closely with Oli. Following its friendship with Oli, China has invested in the country’s development projects, including roads and railways.
“As these projects come closer to the Terai Region, the geographic barrier of the Himalayas and the political buffer of a neutral Nepal get potentially compromised in favour of China,” according to Lt Gen (retd) Subrata Saha in an earlier report by Outlook.
Saha added, “China's influence in Nepal has risen exponentially in the last decade. Pakistan’s ISI activities in Nepal are well-established. Getting a pliable political party or coalition in power in Nepal is obviously part of the many layers and multiple facets of the collusive designs of China and Pakistan against India”.
USA's entry into Nepal
Further, USA's entry into Nepal to checkmate China seems to have emboldened India.
The US has made entry into Nepal through QUAD. It has provided support to Deuba’s government and managed to find parliamentary support to ratify a long pending but contentious $ 500 million Millennium Challenge Corporation fund.
India-Nepal's strong bond objected to by Oli
India’s relationship with Nepal is built on the foundations of grass root linkages. Amongst the strongest bonds are the 40,000 Indian and Nepali Gorkha soldiers as well as about 90,000 Indian Army pensioners in Nepal.
However, Oli lead CPN (UML) leaders have been occasionally objecting to the impropriety of sovereign citizens of
Nepal serving another country.
According to an MP-IDSA report of 2017, there are approximately 1,27,000 pensioners, 90,000 from the Indian Army and 37,000 from the Central and State Governments as well as para-military forces in Nepal.