Pushpa Kamal Dahal”Prachanda, who is seen as pro-China, has said in the past that a new arrangement with India should be developed based on a “changed scenario” in Nepal and after addressing all outstanding issues such as a review of the Treaty of Friendship from 1950 and resolving border disputes between Kalapani and Susta.
Nepal’s foreign policy is mainly based on the principle of eavesdropping Trade between India and China and investment rivalry in the country to gain a strategic advantage in the region.
Dahal, an outspoken communist, said immediately after being sworn in as prime minister that he would maintain friendly ties with both India and China.
India and Nepal share unique bonds of friendship and cooperation.
The India-Nepal Treaty of Peace and Friendship of 1950 forms the basis of the special relations between the two countries.
Both countries have close and friendly relations characterized by centuries of historical and cultural ties, open borders and deep-rooted people-to-people contacts.
With regular exchanges of visits and high-level interactions, the two nations have further enhanced their strategic relationship.
Economic cooperation has been one of the main focuses between the two nations as India is Nepal’s largest trading partner.
India’s contribution to the Connectivity and Development Partnership in Nepal has been one of the most important aspects of its foreign policy.
India’s development aid to Nepal has been aimed at creating infrastructure at the grassroots level.
Several projects have been carried out in the areas of infrastructure, health, water resources, education, and rural and community development.
India’s involvement in Nepal is based on the principle of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ and the policy of ‘Neighbourhood First’. In this regard, India’s main focus has been to boost Nepal’s development through aid and grants for infrastructure development, human security, improvement of human development indicators and support to Nepal during adversities like the 2015 earthquake.
Relations between India and Nepal have gone through several turbulent times and the relationship has emerged stronger than before. Recent years have witnessed a number of such turbulences. When the Madhesi issue flared up in 2015, some Nepalese politicians blamed India’s hand behind it, though not decisively.
The use of India as a punching bag for domestic politics by some Nepalese leaders has become a common practice in recent times. This blame game can be attributed to such a practice. Nevertheless, it has tarnished India-Nepal relations to some extent, at least for now.
With KP Sharma Oli taking the lead of the Prime Minister of Nepal in 2018, some issues of India-Nepal relations started to emerge.
The Oli government showed a clear inclination towards China and did not shy away from raising issues ranging from territorial disputes in Limpiyadhura, Kalapani and Lipulekh to questioning the birthplace of Lord Ram. The former prime minister even blamed India for the spread of the coronavirus in Nepal, calling it the “Indian virus.”
Analysts suggest that such anti-Indian attitudes reflect the political instability in Nepal’s domestic politics and are often caused by China.
Nevertheless, when Sher Bahadur Deuba took over the Prime Ministership of Nepal, ties started to improve again. It hit a turning point by visiting Lumbini, the birthplace of Gautama Buddha, on Buddha Purnima this year.
This overture from Prime Minister Narendra Modi not only reflected how valued our shared culture is to the two neighbours, but also indicated the importance and emphasis placed on restoring ties at the highest level.
And now, with the conclusion of the recent general election in Nepal and Pushpa Kumar Dahal “Prachanda” being sworn in as the new Prime Minister of Nepal on 25 December 2022, a new chapter in India-Nepal relations could be opened, which the political, economic and cultural ties between the two neighbours.
Although Prime Minister Modi was the first to congratulate Prachanda, China sent several messages showing concern and interest in recent developments in Nepal.
China’s acting ambassador met Prachanda to congratulate him on the same day as his elevation and told that Beijing had lifted the suspension of business and delivery of goods from the Rasuwa-Kerung and Hilsa-Parang 2 checkpoints that have not been in operation since the Covid-19 were put into use. 19 pandemic hit.
In the first official responses after the polls, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said it looked forward to working with Nepal on BRI projects. The breakup of the Deuba-Prachanda alliance and the fact that Oli – the man who led a brave front to India during the blockade in the second half of 2015 – signed trade and transit deals with China in retaliation when he appears to have reiterated the border issue to be central to Beijing’s plan to penetrate deeper into Nepal.
Other Chinese gestures point in the direction of this well. A day before the Indian ambassador visited Prachanda, and before the government was ratified by a parliamentary majority, a high-level Chinese team was already in Kathmandu to conduct a feasibility study for the ambitious Kerung-Kathmandu railway line, a major project under the BRI.
Notably, Dahal inaugurated the country’s third international airport, built in the backdrop of the Annapurna Mountains with Chinese loans and donations.
Ahead of the inauguration of Nepal’s new Pokhara airport, the Chinese embassy in Kathmandu tweeted in a surprise announcement, “This (Pokhara airport) is the flagship project of China-Nepal Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) cooperation,” writes Anil Giri, in The Kathmandu Post.
The tweet from the Chinese embassy comes as Kathmandu reiterated that no project under Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative has been signed and that Nepal and China are working to finalize the text of the project implementation under the BRI, it reported. The Kathmandu Post.
In the race to build and inaugurate airports all over Nepal, the Himalayan Nation took a soft loan from China of USD 215.96 million in March 2016. The civil authority of Nepal and China’s EXIM Bank had signed the agreement in which China CAMC Engineering was given the construction contract.
China’s Exim Bank had agreed to make 25 percent of the loan interest-free and set interest on the remainder of the amount at 2 percent per annum, with a payback period of 20 years.
It is quite clear that China is encircling Nepal through its debt diplomacy. Also the newly appointed Chinese envoy Nepalese Chen song reiterated China’s willingness to cooperate with Nepal to pursue common development.
China’s new envoy also stressed that he is ready to work with his Nepalese friends “to exploit the full potential of China-Nepal cooperation”.
“I, along with my colleagues at the embassy, stand ready to work with Nepali friends from all walks of life to unleash the full potential of China-Nepal cooperation and take bilateral relations to a new level” he added.