With a new communist government at the helm, Nepal which is a sandwich state between India and China may now lean more towards Beijing. Earlier this month, a coalition of two communist parties led by the former PM Pushpa Kamal Dahal and KP Sharma Oli came victorious in Nepal’s election. The victory has been seen as a milestone in the country from monarch to federal democracy. The election revealed to what extent China will emerge as a viable alternative to India in Nepal’s foreign policy?
Did India-China Rivalry Influence Nepal?
According to analysts at the research firm start ford, one thing is for certain and that is the rivalry between India and china for influence in Nepal will only ramp up. The landlocked country is one of the world’s most remote countries and it has remained neutral for both the countries India and China for over a course of time including the economic and political clout. Besides, Kathmandu is one of the biggest trading partners of New Delhi and has been a dominant player under the leadership of Nepali Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba. This could be change as KP Sharma Oli who is expected to overtake Deuba, has committed to boost foreign investment and is seen busy with Beijing for extended process.
Losing India-Nepal Relationship
Beijing is seeing an opportunity as India and Nepal relationship was taking a downward tilt in recent years. Another reason Nepal is getting closer to Beijing is the five month blockade at the Indian border in 2015 which resulted in massive shortage of medicine, food and fuel. This can be the vital reason that has given the Nepali Government to diversify its relations through closer ties with Beijing.
Besides, blocking the chain of food, fuel and medicine, the blockage also caused many of the ruling elite in Kathmandu to cast a suspicious eye towards India. This made them to believe that the New Delhi government has tacitly supported the blockade. During the blockage, KP Oli has emerged as a vocal critic of India’s policy towards Nepal even as he made his intention of taking his country closer to Beijing. The experts stated, that no one observed that Oli concluded to gain China’s support for providing the Internet access and alternative trade routes during the earthquake that hit the sandwiched country in 2015.
India has no choice
With all the blockade and political practice, India has no choice but to work with whomever comes to power in Nepal. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Indian Ministry of External Affairs had welcomed the outcome of Nepali elections. In the official statement which stated, “We congratulate the government and the people of Nepal. India has age-old unique, time-tested ties of friendship with the country. We look forward to working with the next democratically elected government in Nepal to advance our close and multifaceted partnership across all sectors and to support Nepal in its pursuit of peace, stability, economic prosperity and all round development,”
China’s eye on Railway service
On the other note, China is keen that its railway service will pass through the point Oli taken about and go right up to Lumbini which is the famous birthplace of Gutaum Buddha. Although, the severity of Oli to peruse the railway project is unknown, several formalities have been completed.