Oli’s political woes: Time for Nepal PM to realise that he is the problem, not India

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Leading lights of Prime Minister KP Oli’s own Nepal Communist Party are now calling for his resignation, as both party chairperson and PM. Disenchantment with Oli’s unilateral style of working has been growing for some time now. Calls for his ouster have been made by three former Nepali PMs – Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda, Madhav Kumar Nepal and Jhala Nath Khanal. All accuse Oli of becoming authoritarian and failing to consult other seniors of the party. But Oli remains adamant and alleges a conspiracy being hatched in New Delhi and the Indian embassy in Kathmandu to oust him. This he says is retaliation for issuing a new Nepal map showing Lipulekh, Limpiyadhura and Kalapani as Nepali territory.

But when the others challenged him to prove his allegations, Oli got President Bidya Devi Bhandari to prorogue the ongoing session of Nepal’s parliament. It’s clear now that Oli has been using anti-India rhetoric to counter criticism from within his party. However, Nepal’s relations with India run deep and range from religion to culture to economic interdependence and security ties. They are mutually beneficial, and seen to be such, despite some gaffes on the Indian side and India-baiting on the Nepali side.

Oli has been trying to dilute these ties and move closer to his benefactors in China. But what India offers Nepal in terms of an open border, free movement of people, and economic opportunities for Nepali citizens can never be matched by China. At most Beijing can enrich select communist leaders in Nepal. Just ask Sri Lanka about the fate of the Hambantota port. On New Delhi’s part, it should deny Oli the opportunity to blame it for his own failings and quietly work with those who want to further India-Nepal ties. The Oli regime will fall under its own weight.

This piece appeared as an editorial opinion in the print edition of The Times of India.

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