Fresh turmoil in Nepal amid efforts to rebuild ties with India | India News – Times of India


NEW DELHI: Looking to undo the damage caused by the recent strife in bilateral ties, India and Nepal have been exploring ways to restart the engagement process. However, just when India thought the time was finally ripe for this, another wave of political uncertainty has hit Nepal with the rival faction in the ruling Communist party led by PK Dahal Prachanda again looking to press-gang Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli into stepping down.
An agency report from Kathmandu said the Chinese ambassador to Nepal, Hou Yanqi, had met Oli on Tuesday to defuse the crisis but there was no official confirmation of the agenda for the meeting.
While a final decision on whether or not foreign secretary Harsh Shringla will visit Nepal later this month is still awaited, sources said the 2 countries have also discussed the possibility of holding meetings virtually between the commerce and energy secretaries.
Nepal had also proposed dates for a meeting of the boundary working group this month but that will probably have to wait because the meeting involves field work that may not be possible to carry out because of the pandemic.
With Oli and his ministers having toned down the rhetoric over the Kalapani border dispute, Indian army chief MM Naravane visited Kathmandu earlier this month and called on the Nepal PM to discuss ways to expand defence cooperation. Both sides seemed satisfied with the outcome of the visit.
In the middle of efforts to rebuild ties with India though, the crisis in the ruling party resurfaced late last week with Nepal media reporting that Dahal had asked Oli to make “sacrifices” to save the party. This was interpreted as another call for Oli’s resignation by the ruling party co-chair for the PM’s alleged incompetence and failure to govern. Dahal has apparently refused to withdraw a document in which he had listed several examples of Oli’s alleged failures.The latest development seems to have again brought the Nepal Communist Party on the verge of a split with Oli unlikely to go without putting up a fight.
Hou’s meeting with Oli on Tuesday has also drawn attention in Kathmandu even though it’s not clear yet what the agenda was. The Chinese embassy there has made no secret of the fact that China’s interests lie with a united Communist party. Kathmandu Post quoted its spokesperson in July, when Oli was faced with a similar crisis, as saying that China did not wish to see the Nepal Communist Party in trouble and wished “that leaders would resolve their differences and stay united”.
Despite his pro-China image, and his decision to rush through the validation of Nepal’s controversial map showing Indian territories in it, Oli seems to be doing a balancing act for now. His decision to remove Ishwor Pokharel, who had been critical of th Indian army chief, as defence minister was seen by some as a positive signal to India, although it probably also had to do with inner party politics. He later also faced questions for violating the protocol by having a meeting with visiting RAW chief Samant Goel this month in the absence of any official from the Nepal foreign ministry. Goel’s visit was a sign though that India was finally considering having a more substantive engagement with Nepal, including a possible meeting between the foreign secretaries in which the Kalapani dispute would also come up.

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