Challenges before Nepal
KP Oli must put the welfare and prosperity of the Nepalese people before ideological affinity
With a Left coalition led by the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) regime taking over the helm of affairs in Kathmandu, it is expected that the Government, now headed by Prime Minister KP Oli which won a total of 174 seats in the 275-member Parliament, will focus on what it is meant to: Delivering on election promises and bringing peace, stability and prosperity to the poor Himalayan country. Petty politics is on the cards, though, as already the rumblings in the pro-China CPN-UML about the party working with the Maoists, who are relatively better disposed towards India. But both parties must work together and cohesively and focus on nation-building.
One of the immediate challenges for the KP Oli Government is to uphold the values of the new Constitution — that's the foundation of public confidence. Ever since the end of the civil war, when Nepal was recognized as a Republic in 2006, several Governments have come and gone but a narrow-minded political class has been hesitant to reform and worked in its own interests which added a sense of uncertainty among various sections of the society. Oli, therefore, has his task cut out. The country has a demarcated framework for cooperative federalism, and above all, Oli has the support of the Maoists; they must work together and protect the interests of the Madhesis and various ethnic and minority groups by getting all dissenting parties on board. Gaining the confidence of the people, who felt cheated by a corrupt political class, and addressing discontent is a must.
Closer home, there's no running away from it: The situation looks grim for New Delhi despite recent overtures by India to soften Oli's strong his anti-India stance. Repairing ties with a Nepal helmed by an Oli-led Government will definitely have to be a process and not an event. The economic blockade of 2015 wherein New Delhi was painted as a villain thanks in large part due to Oli's propaganda did turn popular sentiment against India. That set the stage for Oli welcoming China to become a major partner in the country's growth story. New Delhi may consider this to have been a ‘fixed match' but there's no denying our diplomatic and outreach failure to stem popular animus against India. Nevertheless, Nepal-India bonds are not fragile. India has always stood by her Himalayan neighbour and the mandate of the people of Nepal has been respected fully by the Modi Government. Besides, common traditions, a shared culture and intensive people-to-people contacts that have always generated economic activity and jobs. Hopefully, the Oli administration too will recognise this.
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