VIF Interactive Session with Sunil Bahadur Thapa and Bishow Parajuli
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The Vivekananda International Foundation organized an interactive session with Shri Sunil Bahadur Thapa, Joint General Secretary, Nepali Congress, and Member of Constituent Assembly on 08 November 2021. Shri Thapa was joined by Brishaw Parajuli, Representative and Country Director, United Nations World Food Programme, Nepal. Dr Arvind Gupta, Director VIF, chaired the session and delivered introductory remarks on India-Nepal bilateral relations and the impact of the domestic politics of Nepal. The other participants included Ambassador Jayanta Prasad, Professor Sangeeta Thapliyal, Dr. Sreeradha Datta, Ms. Cchavi Vasisht and Mr. Rishi Gupta.

In the past five years, bilateral relations between India and Nepal touched a new low. Coupled with the border row and its use for domestic politics by the left forces had hampered the existing bonhomie between the two countries. The ultra-nationalistic outlook based on the anti-India agenda sported by former Prime Minister KP Oli not only divided the people of Nepal, Oli through a chain of statements and acts, including the new map asserted against India for possible political benefit. Over the decades, the left forces in Nepal have politicized the diplomatic issues with India. KP Oli took advantage of the border row with India. He also delayed the regular military exercises between India and Nepal. It was only recently that these exercises were resumed and armies of the two countries met and exercised.

In Nepal, the left forces have established deceptive politics. There are also extreme left forces who continue to work as disorderly forces. These forces constantly search for loopholes and vacuum between India and Nepal and use such occasions to their advantage. Meanwhile, other than the left forces, present-day Nepal faces the challenges of lack of governance and crisis of democracy. To bring peace and stability to the country, ending these crises is the only way forward.

For decades, the Nepali Congress Party has stood for closer Nepal-India ties. The present-day revival of relations at the government and party level is a testimony to Nepali Congress’s commitment which has strongly been reciprocated by India. While the element of democracy has been a binding factor between Nepali Congress and India, Nepal’s people need to understand the harms caused by the left forces in Nepal, especially the ideological fallacies of KP Oli. A divided and influenced Madhesh is yet another challenge for the democracy in Nepal. The nexus between KP Oli and a few Madhesh based parties might suppress the democratic demands of the Madhesis with regard to citizenship.

Against this domestic backdrop, the external factors have also equally worked against India’s goodwill in Nepal. Today, China is a reality and a threat. The policies and welcoming space provided by KP Oli to China had overlooked China’s wrongdoings, especially in the internal political sphere and its border policy towards Nepal. While the Nepali Congress-led government under Sher Bahadur Deuba is closely observing and reviewing the Chinese encroachment of the Nepalese territory, the people of Nepal must be made aware of the real strategic intentions of China in Nepal.

Amidst all the wrongdoings of the KP Oli government in harming the age-old ties with India, Nepal and India must join together in dealing with the propaganda of the left forces. An early parliamentary election in Nepal is the immediate opportunity for the Nepali Congress to counter the left parties.

At the same time, India and Nepal are witnessing the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 and a changing power politics in the global order. The international players are focussing more on regional alliances than asserting unanimously. Therefore, India as the largest democracy and a strong economy, and Nepal as a strategic country in the Himalayan region, must come together because they have the potential to shape the region. Also, initiatives like a cross border oil pipeline, railways, and Arun III hydropower project are examples of long-term economic engagement between India and Nepal. Hence, these ties must be nourished through such economic engagements in sync with political and socio-cultural relations.

Event Date 
November 8, 2021

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