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Analysis: MCC Row Has Only Sharpened Nepalese PM’s Fighting Spirit

PM Oli May Demand A Special Convention To Prove His Metal
(Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and others participating in the cabinet meeting held at the Prime Minister’s residence in Baluwatar on Thursday, Kathamandu, 2 June, 2020. Photo: Chandrakala Chhetri, RSS)

By Jyoti Dhakal, KATHMANDU:- Since day one, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has been an easy target for those, who do not want to see Nepal becoming free from the hegemony of its two immediate neighbors – India and China. In his attempt to execute the 500 million dollar American project of Millennium Challenge Corporation or the MCC to Nepal, PM Oli was well-aware about this “hegemony fact” and wanted to make sure that India and China are well-checked with the significant presence of the US (and Britain, too), according to analysts.

Since his first tenure, PM Oli has established himself as a nationalist, who puts national interest above any other partisan or personal interest first. In his first tenure, PM Oli had to brave the economic blockade of India for promulgating a constitution without the consent of India. PM Oli then extended hands of friendship to Nepal’s northern neighbor China to keep India in its real size. India had no option then to lift the economic blockade, as the blockade proved futile amid Nepal exporting and importing through China.

During his second tenure, PM Oli came under the angst of India again for speaking the truth that the territories of Limpiadhura, Lipulekh and Kalapani, which actually belonged to Nepal, were occupied by India. India even built a road in those territories to connect with Kailash Mansarovar area of Tibet. It is believed that China also had consented in India’s act of occupying those Nepalese territories. As PM Oli announced to include those territories in Nepal’s map and even led the parliament’s initiative to approve a new map for Nepal, this very nationalistic action of PM Oli angered and distanced India.

Besides, one of the significant work of PM Oli’s second tenure was to make sure that the MCC development project would be implemented in Nepal without hindrance. PM Oli took a solid position and stood against all, who did not like the idea of a multi-million dollar American project (MCC) in Nepal. China was one of the stakeholders, who saw the MCC as being a rival to China’s own Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

China then allegedly started cajoling the far left groups of the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) including Madhav Nepal, Prachanda, Jhalanath Khanal and Bhim Rawal, among others. The Chinese Embassy was reported to have distributed money to journalists to write against the MCC project, while protesters were also given money to come to the street against the MCC.

There were hacking incidents inside the North Korean Embassy in Kathmandu, while China was busy organizing free trips to journalists, lobbyists and members of the ruling NCP to different parts of China, so that they could be used against the incumbent Nepalese government led by PM Oli, whose “crime” was to give a green signal to an American project.
Not satisfied with the nationalistic decisions of PM Oli, his party opponents, chiefly dominated by the politburo members, met and conspired in Jhamsikhel, Lalitpur on Tuesday, June 30, 2020. In the meeting, party co-chair Prachanda demanded resignation of PM Oli from the government as well as from the post of the party’s co-chair.

(File Photo: Nepal’s Minister of Finance Gyanendra Bahadur Karki, seated left, and acting CEO of Millennium Challenge Corporation Jonathan Nash, seated right, sign the Nepal Compact on Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Steve Ruark for MCC)

As of today, PM Oli continues to get bullied for his nationalistic approach to the domestic politics and foreign policies of Nepal by the pro-Chinese and pro-Indian lobbies. In such a scenario, PM Oli may be compelled to take the steps that may be good for the country, but bad for the ruling NCP, as the political analysts of Nepal would put forth.

“PM Oli has several options to survive and flourish even amid this ongoing crisis,” said a highly-placed political source of Nepal, who did not want to be named.

“First of all, PM Oli may tame the far left groups of his party with the weapon of splitting the largest party. Or, PM Oli may demand a special convention of his party, which would be decisive in defining the future course for his ruling party as well as for the country,” said the sources.

In this backdrop, any step PM Oli takes amid the presence of a multiple risk factors posed by India and China and his local opponents, PM Oli’s nationalistic views and the willingness to check and balance these two neighbors – by introducing the US (and Britain) in the scenario – should be appreciated and applauded, as the analysts would observe rightly.

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