What Modi 2.0 means for Nepal
Today the world’s eyes are trained at New Delhi as it hosts the swearing in ceremony of Narendra Damodar Das Modi as the Prime Minister of India. Modi is taking oath of office for the second time riding on the landslide victory of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the parliamentary elections.
BJP has secured a humongous victory the like of which has rarely been seen before. It was not even seen during the heyday of Jawaharlal Nehru or at the height of the Indira Gandhi’s rule.
This is for the first time in India that any non-congress party has emerged victorious in successive general elections with a massive majority and mandates. BJP won 303 seats in the lower house of India’s parliament, enhancing 282 seats it won in 2014.
More importantly, this would be the first time that Nepal would be dealing with a non-congress government in India with two successive tenures. This article is centralised on how Nepal should take advantage from India and give continuation to its historical people-to-people connect.
Nepal also enjoys a stable government with comfortable majority that allows it to expedite developmental projects. Just yesterday, Nepal government unveiled budget worth 1.53 trillion rupees. This populist budget has centralised Nepal government’s national slogan – “Happy Nepali, prosperous Nepal”. But it’s always difficult to materialise the populist budget.
However, Nepal must take advantage from its southern neighbour which has raised a slogan of “Sab kaa Saath, Sab kaa Bikash” (With all, development of all). More importantly, India is all for overall development and political stability of Nepal. There are a lot of substantial financial and technical development assistances India has been providing to Nepal. Hereby, rather than showing pseudo-masculinity towards India Nepal government has to have rigorous follow-up of Indian projects to be accomplished on time. Similarly, Nepal should also do away with all hurdles for the smooth running of the projects.
In Nepal, it’s very easy to become a nationalist if you inflict slurs on India and most of the leaders have been following this formula. In current political scenario, an armed political group has been terrorising the nation by exploding bombs and shutting the nation down. There is high probability of Indian projects being hampered by the same group and it would pose a risk for Nepal government. This situation must be handled with care.
There have been many progresses in ties between Nepal and India. A couple of weeks ago this scribe visited India and talked with few personalities who are abreast with Nepal-India relationship. They shared with me that Nepal and India have started to engage in video conference once a week to talk about economic and several other affairs.
Indeed, this initiative seems effective to dispel any kind of probable confusions in Nepal-India relationship. India’s Ministry of External Affairs regularly carries out press meet and share all the developments occurring between India and its international partner. In Nepal, there is no mechanism to update journalists regarding the developments between Nepal and its counterparts. Journalists and columnists can play pivotal role to erode misconceptions in regards to Nepal-India relationship and this certainly would change the perception of ordinary Nepali people regarding India. This initiative would bolster the unique connect between two nations.
Indian electorate has given Narendra Modi a mandate for making India stronger and to inaugurate a new era in the country’s political journey and to prove its aspirational policy of ‘neighbourhood first’. India’s manifold problems are at once too colossal and too complicated and security concerns come first.
Nepal must avoid ‘chauvinistic diplomacy’. Such an approach is being practiced in Nepal since long. This diplomacy is all about abusing a neighbour to appease the other. This approach can lead Nepal nowhere. It’s true that Nepal’s trade is disproportionately dependent on India. We exchange multifaceted business bilaterally. So, it’s quite obvious to consider India’s security concerns where Nepal is playing meaningful roles. If there are any misconceptions between two nations, both parties can untangle any knots by having dialogues.
‘Hindutva sentiment’ has played a striking role in securing huge mandate for Narendra Modi and his alliance partners. In Nepal, few pseudo-Hindu fundamentalist leaders think that they can copy BJP’s strategy to secure such commanding majority here as well. But these leaders should not forget that India is a secular country. Narendra Modi has never infringed upon the preamble of Indian constitution. In Nepal there is a feeling that the BJP has keen interest in restoring ‘Hindu Kingdom’ in Nepal. But Nepal should know that any party or leader taking oath of constitution that has the provision of ‘secularism’ cannot assist other nations to become ‘Hindu Kingdom’. In fact, such a debate can hamper Nepal-India relationship and ordinary people may think that India will exercise unwanted intervention in Nepal. Local Hindu fanatics must refrain from inviting any hurdles between relations of two countries.
Published on 30 May 2019