A day after Nepal cancelled the visit of its President to India and recalled its ambassador, sources told The Hindu that the sudden chill in bilateral ties follows a week long battle of nerves during which Kathmandu accused New Delhi of backing a plot to topple the government in the Himalayan country.
“On three occasions over the last one week, we communicated to the Indian Ambassador in Kathmandu, Ranjit Rae, to stop supporting the political adventurism by our rivals which nearly toppled the government of Nepal,” Gopal Khanal, Senior Foreign Affairs Expert in the office of Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli told The Hindu on the phone from Kathmandu.
Mr. Khanal claimed that the plot to break the ruling alliance, led by Mr. Oli, received support from India.
The crisis was triggered on May 3-4 when the former Prime Minister, Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ of the United Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-Maoist), invited Sher Bahadur Deuba, leader of the Nepali Congress (NC), to form a combine and replace the government of Mr. Oli with a national unity government.
‘Undiplomatic behaviour’ Nepal accused India of facilitating Mr. Prachanda’s sudden rebellion. Mr. Prachanda’s UCPN-Maoist is an alliance partner of Mr. Oli’s Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML). The shaky coalition continues as of now.
However, highly placed Indian sources have rejected Kathmandu’s charges. The sources say the setbacks are due to Mr. Oli’s “petulant and un-diplomatic behaviour.”
“Nepal has been insinuating that India is involved in the efforts to undermine the government of Prime Minister Oli. Indeed, there are a lot of political challenges in Nepal which are enough to unite the rivals against Mr. Oli. Mr. Oli’s rivals came together on their own and India had no role in bringing them together,” said an official source in Delhi, suggesting that Nepal’s internal political situation will not stabilise till Kathmandu implements a democratic constitution giving equal rights to all sections of the people.
PM didn’t keep his word
Mr. Oli is also accused of not keeping the promise of amending the new democratic Constitution of Nepal. “He promised to bring necessary amendments in the Nepali Constitution but till now Nepal has not moved at all in implementing the amendments to provide equal rights to all sections of population,” said the source adding that without the amendments, the Madhesi population on the India-Nepal border will begin agitations which will hurt Indian security interests.
Statement with EU
“Nepal also made a huge issue of out of the March 30 India-EU Joint Statement,” said the official elaborating that the mention of “lasting and inclusive constitutional settlement in Nepal” in the Joint Statement was used by Nepal’s leadership for mobilising support at the domestic level.
Lack of bilateral trust also grew over Mr Oli’s landmark trip to China in March which led to a landmark transit agreement between China and Nepal.
The step by step escalation of the bilateral crisis which led to the recalling of the Ambassador Deep Kumar Upadhyay to Kathmandu which, the Indian source says was implemented without due consultation and protocol accorded to a senior diplomat. “Mr. Oli dismissed his ambassador after he counselled against dismissing the President’s visit to Delhi and Ujjain. Is that a mature way to treat a senior diplomat?” he asked.