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Has India changed her Nepal policy?

By Our Political Observer
What Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s special envoy and Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and our prime minister in waiting KP Sharma Oli talked about during their 45 minutes long one-on-one meeting last week in Kathmandu we don’t know. However, Indians were very happy, according to those UML leaders who were at the dinner reception hosted by the UML in honour of Swaraj.
Nepal-IndiaOli has not explained in detail about the talks even to his close party colleagues, however, he has given gesture that the Indians have wished to cooperate with the new left alliance government in the offing.
Swaraj held a breakfast meeting with Maoist chairman Pushpakamal Dahal the next day. After the meeting, Dahal shared the conclusion of the meeting with his close colleagues. Dahal said that he was surprised from the changed attitude of the Indians. After the meeting with Swaraj, Dahal had briefed his colleagues that the Modi government in India is in a process of changing its course.
According to Dahal, after the failure of the Indian policy of micro-level intervention in Nepal, India is trying to correct her foreign policy.
Swaraj clearly stated that by respecting Nepal’s sovereignty, India will never intervene in Nepal’s domestic policy, rather, she will perform cooperation to the upcoming left alliance government.
Speculations:
India has speculated that KP Oli is a pro-Chinese leader and after Oli will become the prime minister, Chinese presence, which is already alarming for India, will further increase. Therefore, Modi, to neutralize Oli, had sent Swaraj as his special envoy to ensure Indian support to the Oli led government. Modi, who is facing strong criticism of his opposition for destroying harmonious relations with the neighbouring countries, including Nepal, is trying his best to improve relations with the small neighbouring countries and in this course, his present mission is to neutralize Oli, say political analysts.
New Indian strategy:
Indian PM Modi extended congratulations to our prime minister in waiting and also extended invitation to him to visit Delhi immediately after Oli assumes office.
Modi, furthermore, sent his special envoy to meet Oli in Kathmandu even before Oli is to be elected as the new prime minister.
Swaraj, during the dinner session is learnt to have said to the UML leaders that as both the countries Nepal and India enjoy special relations, PM Modi felt that congratulations over telephone was not enough and he wished to send her to extend congratulations in advance to Oli.
Be that as it may, first of all, the Indians are maintaining “wait and see” policy. About one year, Indians will see Oli’s performance and if Oli will not serve the Indian interests, the Indians will use anti-Oli camp within UML to finish his political life, say some analysts.
Timely or untimely?:
Nepali academicians and diplomats are engaged in a debate on whether Swaraj’s visit was timely or untimely. A section, including DPM and RPP leader Kamal Thapa has publicly said that the visit was untimely and an open intervention on a sovereign country’s domestic politics.
First of all, it seems, Swaraj had visited Kathmandu just to hold one-on-one meeting with Oli. Oli gave special gesture by hosting a dinner in honour of Swaraj.
Swaraj, like in the past, held meetings with leaders of different political parties at the Soaltee Hotel. Even former prime ministers and former deputy prime ministers, by neglecting protocol, had rushed to meet the Indian external affairs minister Swaraj.
During the meeting with the leaders of tarai based parties, Swaraj is said to have said that constitution amendment is internal issue of Nepal and thus the tarai based leaders should cooperate with the left alliance government and resolve the issue of constitution amendment.
Time and again, Oli is saying that the constitution can be amended and to amend the constitution, the tarai parties should join the left alliance to reach two-thirds majority in the parliament.
After meeting with Swaraj, if the amendment of the constitution is ensured, Upendra Yadav’s party may join the government, say sources.
No information to Foreign Ministry:
As per the diplomatic norms, during such visits, the Indian government has to inform our Foreign Ministry about the visit and programme schedule. But our Foreign Minister was informed only very late about Swaraj’s visit and courtesy call to PM Deuba and President Vidya Bhandari only. About the meeting with other political parties and UML hosting a dinner, the Foreign Ministry was unaware.
As per the diplomatic norms, when responsible leaders such as former PM and former DPM are meeting with foreign dignitaries, there should be presence of the Foreign Ministry officers. But our leaders met Swaraj without informing the Foreign Ministry.

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