Analysis

Intrusion into Nepal’s internal affairs is unwelcome

Purushottam Poudel

Purushottam07

In 2014, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi while addressing the constituent assembly of Nepal had said that ‘India has won no war without the support of the Nepalese.’ Nepal took this statement as an acknowledgment to the valiant warriors from Nepal who have been sacrificing their life for the security of India.

Nepali citizen Sambur Gurung, a Havildar in Indian army, died while while maintaining peace in Kashmir. Gurung is the second Nepali soldier serving in the Indian army to be killed by Pakistan army’s firing in a less than a month.

Prior to him, Indian army man Havildar Dipak Karki, permanent resident of Nepal, was killed on 22 June in the same place. Many Nepali people who work as Indian Army personnel have been relinquishing their life to reaffirm Modi’s claim.

But the irony is that the Prime Minister who once had expressed his regards towards the Nepali people during the first tenure is overseeing Nepal-India relations at the lowest point in history. This happened during his both tenure.

The worsening of relations seems to have appeared as a boon for PM KP Sharama Oli. He promised economic prosperity and good governance at the parliamentary elections three years back. The promise has faded as time passed. Now the government indulges in light issue while neglecting the deeper one.

The two unnecessary ordinances, Constitutional Council Ordinance and Political Party Ordinance, 2020 (which was aimed to split the parties), in the middle of the pandemic serve as anecdotes to manifest how serious Oli government is in regards to state affairs. The ordinance with ill motive was vehemently criticised within his own party and the secretariat which is a conglomeration of nine senior leaders of Nepal Communist Party.

The majority members of the Secretariat and the Standing Committee of his party had an opinion to topple him from power both as a party President and Prime Minister.

No doubt, Prime Minister Oli is in power by raising radical slogans. But this is the in-house problem of Nepal. Nepal can seek its solution. Meanwhile, the extreme nationalist clique in India and some media persons have tried to sabotage the integrity of Nepal. This has provided much-needed leverage to PM Oli.

Amidst the failure in various spectra of domestic politics, Oli got a fillip when India inaugurated a road connecting Pithoragarh in Uttarakhand of India to Mansarovar, China on the 8th of May. This 80 km road runs through almost 18 km land of Nepal.  Immediate to that Nepal held an all-party meeting and decided to oppose India’s move unanimously. Prior to that Nepal also had promptly rejected the eighth series of political map of India, which includes Kalapani, Limpiyadhura and Lipulekh as a part of India. Nepal from then till now has urged for a dialogue which India has denied for various reasons.

Historically, the Kalapani area has been an integral part of Nepal. Since there was some misunderstanding between Nepal and India regarding the very area, Nepal had agreed to term it a disputed region. Both the countries had agreed to find the political solution to it. Defying the previous agreement with Nepal, India included the area in its newly released map and later on inaugurated a road in the area.

Nepal had no choice but to answer India. Nepal parliament on 13 June unanimously endorsed a new political map which included the area of Kalapani, Limpiyadhura and Lipulekh. Once Nepal decided to accommodate this area Indian media have been using slanderous language against Nepal.

The derogatory contents continuously disseminated in some Indian media outlets against Nepal for sure won’t mend the bilateral relations.

‘Indian media in word-war against Nepal’

Once Nepal laid her rightful claim to lands up to Limpiyadhura, distinguished personalities from various walks of life in India started vomiting poison against Nepal. The derogatory contents continuously disseminated in some Indian media outlets against Nepal for sure won’t mend the bilateral relations. Those contents could keep media busy for a day but it definitely will affect the bilateral relations for the years to come.

The news hinting at the close relationship between PM KP Sharma Oli and Chinese Ambassador to Nepal Hou Yanqi is reprehensible and regrettable.

Baseless news item broadcasted by an independent media house has raised a question of credibility of Indian media. Especially when the relations between the two countries are at a low point, Indian media transmits such vile news. Doesn’t it vindicate the state’s role in production of such content? How could the Indian state mechanism allow such a disparaging content about an executive head of a neighbouring country?

In his book Does the Elephant Dance? (p. 117) Canadian writer and diplomat David M Malone refers to the former secretary for India’s External Affairs Ministry Rajiv Sikri who says that, ‘Indians have taken Nepal too much for granted. India’s approach towards Nepal has been dismissive and neglectful. The Indian government and public have never shown adequate sensitivity to Nepali pride and uniqueness.’ Sikri’s interpretation of his fellows’ thinking seems true in this very matter.

Had not been so, instead of jettisoning the bilateral issue, media should have focused on embellishing a favourable environment where both the countries could feel comfortable to share their point. Media could have played a role to redeem the deteriorated relationship between two countries. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen. It eerily projects that neither the Indian government nor the media seem to have taken Nepal seriously. This is insult to injury for Nepal.

Indian media are particularly sceptical about China’s proactive role in Nepal’s politics. The unwarranted claim from the Indian media that ‘Nepal’s PM has intimate relationship with the Chinese Ambassador to Nepal comes amid ambassador’s meeting with the senior leaders of the NCP. This meeting took place at a time when the NCP has internal tension. The hue and cry is because China took the baton from India to interfere in the domestic politics of Nepal.

When it comes to China’s changing position and intensified posture in Nepal Nepal is worried more than India. Intimidated by India’s enduring interference in Nepal’s domestic affairs, Nepali people are wary that China does not do the same. On the other hand, Nepal recently has seen the border escalation between India and China. Therefore, it is to be believed that India has bigger fish to fry.

Paying unnecessary attention to the host country’s internal affairs by the embassy of any country is a breach of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961. Article 41 of the Convention clearly states that ‘Diplomats have a duty not to interfere in the internal affairs of the hosting states.‘ Nepal has to condemn the recent activities of the Chinese embassy if it tries to manipulate the internal affairs of Nepal. India is no exemption to it.

India-Nepal-China

Whenever India meddles in the internal politics of Nepal, Nepali people are riled and history provides the evidence. With every trespassing in domestic politics of Nepal, India has burn the bridge with many Nepali people who used to be sympathetic towards India. People who witnessed the 1989 blockade are the fierce critics of India today. People who experienced the economic blockade of 2015 might have the same attitude towards India in the coming days.

India’s attitude towards Nepal in the aftermath of the promulgation of Nepal’s constitution in 2015 and the recent border dispute subsequently followed by the Indian media coverage to defame Nepal might lead the bilateral relation from worse to worst. Especially, the understanding of India in the youths of Nepal will move towards negativity if this sort of thing keeps happening. On the other hand Indian government tireless repudiation for the border talk for sure will increase anti-Indian sentiment in the public.

When it comes to the recent border dispute between Nepal and India, Nepali media is presenting the proper reason why Kalapani, Limpiyadhura and Lipulekh belong to Nepal. Although the Indian media has claimed that the area belongs to India, they have not been able to present any evidence to substantiate their claim. Rather than presenting the evidence they relying on expert’s opinion. The biggest apprehension arises when the Indian expert counters the evidence projected by Nepali side and lack to present their own.

While the Nepali people are claiming the land with the historical evidences some Indian media are spreading propaganda against Nepal. Is it because they lack the proper document to stake their claim to the land? If not, why are they engrossed in sabotaging personal dignity and making it a matter of public consumption? Had they had adequate evidence, they would be inclined for proper discussion rather than manufacturing news.

On 3 July, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in Ladakh. The speech he gave there was viewed with special interest in Nepal. Addressing the Indian troops to boost the morale amid the rising tension with China at the border he said that ‘the era of expansionism has come to an end’.

Yes, we believe that the era of expansionism is really over. We solicit that Indian troops who have been living in Nepali soil for nearly 60 years will return soon and that deteriorated relations between Nepal and India will soon return to normalcy.

The writer is a freelancer.

Twitter @poudeel_puru

Published on 14 July 2020

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