India assesses China's role in bringing left parties together in Nepal

India assesses China's role in bringing left parties together in Nepal
India is assessing the extent of China's role in bringing the three leftist parties of Nepal together ahead of the forthcoming elections in the neighbouring country.

Though the diplomats of India and Nepal have been discussing a proposal for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Kathmandu for inauguration of a hydro-electric project in the coming weeks, New Delhi is now likely to factor in the the surprise move by the three leftist parties of the neighbouring country to come together and forge an alliance, sources told the DH on Thursday.

The Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist Leninist), Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre) and the newly floated Naya Shakti sprang a surprise in Kathmandu on Tuesday, when they announced that they would forge an alliance and would contest the forthcoming elections together. The CPN (UML) and CPN (Maoist Centre) are led by K P Sharma Oli and Pushpa Kamal Dahal (a.k.a Prachanda). Baburam Bhattarai, who quit the CPN (Maoist Centre) in 2015, leads Naya Shakti. They all – Oli, Prachanda and Bhattarai – have held the office of the Prime Minister in Kathmandu in the recent years.

The reports received in New Delhi indicated that China had played a role in bringing the three leftist parties together – ostensibly to pose a challenge to India's traditional influence in politics of Nepal. 

It was during Oli's tenure as Prime Minister of Nepal that New Delhi’s relations with Kathmandu came under stress after the new constitution adopted by Constituent Assembly of the neighbouriung country in September 2015 triggered protests. The disgruntled communities like Madhesis and Tharus resorted to protests in Terai region of Nepal, alleging that the new constitution failed to allay their concerns over further marginalization and to meet their aspirations. India has been prodding Nepal to ensure that the new statute was inclusive and broad-based in its approach.

India was upset when Prachanda, who led a Maoist insurgency in Nepal from 1996 to 2006, chose to visit China first after becoming the Prime Minister of Nepal in 2008. Almost all of his predecessors in the past half-a-century had come to India on first official visits as premiers. When he took over as Prime Minister for the second term in 2016, Prachanda, however, made it a point to visit India first.

New Delhi, however, keeps a close watch on Prachanda's proximity with the top brass of the Communist Party of China.

With the alliance of the three parties brightening their prospects to win the coming parliamentary elections,  New Delhi is worried over the possibility of China gaining more leverage in Nepal than India.

Sources told the DH that New Delhi would take a call on the proposed visit of Prime Minister to Kathmandu for inauguration of the Arun-III hydro-electric project in Nepal only after assessing the implications of the latest political developments in the neighbouring country.

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