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Oli’s Follies

Now that Prime Minister K. P. Oli has paid his ritualistic pilgrimage to New Delhi, eyes will habitually turn to his forthcoming trip to Beijing. Oli wisely announced beforehand that there would be nothing new from the south this round. What should be gleaned, though, is that the Indian media was largely silent on the trip and the Nepali pliant media is now harping on the materialization of Indian commitments. But underlying these generalizations is the evident concurrence voiced from Indian voices both in the Nepali and Indian media of the Indian projection that the situation has been normalized and how Oli who was ‘northward looking’ is now looking south. This is humbug. Oli was neither looking north nor south. Those with memories of the Indian portrayal of Nepali Maoists being China-props will not find it difficult to recall Oli’s signal contribution in taming his party’s views in the 1990s on the Mahakali treaty. As the Nepali Congress now feebly assert, the Indian blockade two years back was imposed during Shushil Koirala’s Congress government in Nepal and that the situation had already been normalized by time Deuba left his recent job. Of course, K.P. raised the China option to a pitch facilitating charges in New Delhi that Modi’s neighborhood first policy has failed.
Indeed, it is this Indian section that does not fail to point out that there has never been as strong a government in Kathmandu as Oli’s who has not only a majority government in the federal parliament but comes close to a two thirds number what with his allies even in the federal states. How this now much played fact has been engineered and what contributions have cajoled the majority is conveniently underplayed, though. Oli’s credentials must seem attractive for the moment as much as is the confidence of normalization. This nevertheless makes the point on delivery as much pertinent as is the anticipation of his trip to the north where the emphasis will more likely be on delivery from the Nepali side instead. All this notwithstanding, Prime Minister Oli upon return here will have to tackle his fiscal program for the year. There is nothing that shows that his trip to Delhi will have aided this formidable task. His finance minister has painted a dismal picture of an economy on the verge of collapse. To boot, there is his official acceptance that the experimentation with federalism is proving very expensive. On the other hand, the dabbling with cast and class politics is already breaking at the seams with contradictory demands on reservations and religions that mock the whole concept of reservations and equal opportunity in the constitution. In essence, the concurrence is that the implementation of the constitution remains in the crisis phase. That this crisis will be termed the management phase is clear just as is the fact that it is strategically convenient. Anticipating further crises for Oli would be wise indeed. His problems mount and neither he nor the country can wish them away.

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