. Nepal has drifted into a political crisis following its Prime Minister (PM) KP Sharma Oli’s decision to dissolve Parliament. The constitutional validity of Oli’s move has been questioned, and is awaiting decision by the Supreme Court.
India has played its cards cautiously and craftily. With an assiduously cultivated façade of non-interference, it let China smear itself into the mud of micromanaging the ruling party’s internal conflicts.
Energy and trade officials from the two countries have met each other, border talks are on board, and Nepal’s foreign minister is visiting India for the joint commission meeting next week.
Through these moves, India has achieved its immediate tactical goals. Oli has been emboldened to stick to power even by breaking the party. In the process, the shallowness of Oli’s opportunistic and politically driven anti-Indian nationalism has been exposed. The unity and dominance of the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) has been shattered, and China, as its patron, has been embarrassed.
On the sidelines of these developments, India has also fuelled and fed Hindutva forces under the leadership of a discarded monarchy, possibly as a ploy in the unfolding realignment of political forces in Nepal. Towards that end, India has now come out openly in favour of fresh elections.
All this puts India on the side of undemocratic, unconstitutional and opportunistic players in Nepal, which South Block strategists think is a small price to be paid for the significant gains otherwise made.
Irrespective of whether Nepal has elections or witnesses the restoration of Parliament, a prudent course for India would be to let Nepal cope with its internal political mess. As no major development in bilateral relations appears likely during the prevailing uncertainty, India must encourage consolidation of a people-driven polity, and improve its own popular profile.