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Will Oli tell Modi to leave Nepal alone as Indian gift

Staff Writer, KATHMANDU: Prime Minister K P Oli is travelling to New Delhi on February 19 in what is his first visit abroad. It was initially said that he would travel to Beijing, making a departure from tradition followed by Nepalese leaders once elected to the top executive post.

Had he decided to go to China there would have been a lot more to write home about since that would mark a new chapter in foreign foreign of the country.

Earlier on, PM Oli and his advisors had loudly said time and again after he was elected to the top post on September 24 that he was in favor of cultivating and upgrading friendship with China in the wake of hardship handed out by India time and again.

The age old refrain is Nepal and India are traditional friends, sharing same culture with people to people relationship in place too. Of course, it is also a fact that the song acquires a jarring tone from time to time. Last five months have seen Nepal handed out the worst in the form of blockade by India, throwing the economy out of gear altogether.

The latest blockade was third in the series falsifying the rhetoric that Nepal is India’s best friend in the region. Ideally, no “friendly” country would impose a blockade and, as in the latest episode, intervene in internal political iisues of a friendly country as India did by espousing the cause of the people of Indian origin in Nepalese tarai.

It appears Nepal has been living in eternal delusion by believing that its relationship with India are on friendly footing. But much like homo sapiens, friendship between nations can be possible only if they are on equal footing economically and intellectually. Truth be told, given the reality and history, relations between Nepal and India have been much like between the victim and the tormentor, with Nepal being a victim and India the tormentor.

But all this is happening under a garb of friendship, with the Nepalese visitors to New Delhi just like PM Oli can be expected to to do next, getting a sort of dressing down, signing on the dotted line and returning. To take only one leaf, Nepal’s appeal for a repeal of the unequal 1950 treaty of peace and friendship has met with spell of uncomfortable questions in return.

History is fraught with incidences of the Indian side taking advantage of a weak nation following a carrot and stick policy. This is responsible for political instability in Nepal with no government completing its intra-election term, given the Indian influence among Nepalese political parties, bureaucracy and the security wings. Major development projects too do not remain unaffected by politics.

The new BJP led government in New Delhi has tended to take the trend to new height, with what happened recently. Much of what is in store will be evident once the visit comes to an end and reports starts coming in. The visit is taking place at the initiative of the Indian side and going by it it will be the Indian side which will produce the agenda and do the talking.

One thing is for sure: With desperate Narendra Modi representing India, the future course is highly like to see the agenda of harnessing Nepalese rivers and seeking guarantee from Nepal that its territory is not used by any other countries at all. So to cut a long story short, the visit will be about securing Indian stranglehold in the backyard country.

Harnessing rivers is not a bad motive but it makes a huge difference if the benefits are not shared in ideal manner and in ways acceptable internationally. Past record says the sharing has not been fair deal to Nepal. This vindicates the position that friendship has not been genuine with rhetoric making up for what is sadly missing.

Thus, Nepal can be said to have benefited from India only in the event it is left alone and helped only in areas it asks for. Political stability could be expected to help political establishment to focus on development. But taking the relationship to that level is impossible for the Nepalese side in the light of all-pervading intervention and micro-management through ambassador based in Kathmandu.

Under the circumstances, India would be deemed a great friend of Nepal in the event it makes a departure from tradition and shows signs of keeping out of Nepal and its internal matters and coming to help only in areas Nepalese side suggests. P M Oli initially tended to talk tough targeting Modi but has subsequently softened down his stance even as that initial stridency is missing. Certainly there will be something to write home about after the visit.

Published Date: Friday, February 12th, 2016 | 09:42 PM

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