[Editorial Analysis] Democracy at stake in Nepal

Mains Paper 2: International Relations
Prelims level: Nepal
Mains level: India and its neighbourhood relations

Context:

• Nepal is facing severe political crisis with repeated dissolution of Nepali parliament leading the country into crisis

What is the issue?

• The repeated dissolution of Parliament, is not just a manifestation of the power struggle between political parties and leaders but also dangerous for the federal republican democratic Constitution.

• Marxist-Leninist party headed by Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli is in collusion with Hindu monarchical forces in Nepal and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh in India.

• A section of the Janata Samajbadi Party (JSP) led by Mahanta Thakur and Rajendra Mahato have joined hands with Mr. Oli, known for anti-Madhesh tirade till the other day.

Autocratic splash:

• India is being seen backing an autocratic and unconstitutional regime, surviving in ‘caretaker mode’ with the connivance of Nepal’s President Bidya Devi Bhandari and Mr. Oli.

• In helping an unpopular and illegitimate regime in Kathmandu, the game-plan seems to be to derail the Constitution and plunge the country into endless crisis.

• But these steps will not be helpful to any of the states.

• Statement by India’s External Affairs Ministry, that “political developments in Nepal are the country’s internal matters” did not help too in changing the popular perception.

• There should be a trade-off between the developmental aspirations of Nepal and the strategic concerns of India, in the light of changing geopolitical dynamics in the Himalayan region.

• India should do course correction and should not throw its weight behind an autocratic regime; it must reassure all who care for the peace and the prosperity of Nepal by reposing faith in Nepal’s democracy and due processes.

• India should start to fill the gap between promises made and delivery and also hasten vaccine delivery to Nepal as promised.

The twists and turns:

• Opposition alliance in Nepal filed a petition in the Supreme Court last week demanding that the Nepali Congress’s Sher Bahadur Deuba be declared the new Prime Minister and the House of Representatives be reinstated.

• Representing the Opposition alliance, Mr. Deuba had presented the signatures of 149 lawmakers to prove that he commanded the majority to lead a new government in this crisis phase.

• Mr. Oli wanted be appointed as Prime Minister, while technically still being the Prime Minister, falsely claiming to have the backing of 153 lawmakers.

• For the manner in which Ms. Bhandari has acted to keep Mr. Oli in power and undermining her constitutional role as the president she might face, impeachment.

• Ms. Bhandari and Mr. Oli are two prominent figures who have consistently disrespected and abused the President’s high office for their shared political gains — and made it subservient to the executive whims and fancies.

• Mr. Oli plans to drive Nepal to the brink of a constitutional crisis, stay as an authoritarian caretaker Prime Minister with President, and force the country into elections when even the next moment is uncertain.

Nepal at the crossroads:

• The author suggests that Nepal should avail its true development potential — and stop being a ‘theatre of the absurd’ and hosting the harmful advances of neighbours involved in geostrategic rivalries”.

• On domestic front, an increased focus should be on homework, instead of leveraging on vulnerabilities and the making of unruly partners.

• In a functional democracy, statecraft is not supposed to be altruistic till it relies on progressive policy and governance — with an aim to augment the mission of ‘greater common good’.

• The task remains unfinished till the people-centric priorities are not driving the political agenda and action.

Way Ahead:

• Nepal should protect its democracy that is now at stake because of actions by political opportunists like Mr. Oli. However, an accomplished democracy like Nepal will rise again.

• For sure, the road ahead is not easy and it is going to be one of struggle. If the Opposition alliance makes a resolve and fights back, it is likely that the new republic will gain in the long term.The big powers should take note of this.
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Prelims Questions:

Q.1) With reference to the Horticulture Cluster Development Programme (CDP), consider the following statements:

1. It is a centrally sponsored programme.

2. It will be implemented by the National Horticulture Board (NHB) of the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2
Answer: B

Mains Questions:

Q.1) Discuss the political developments in Nepal in the last two years. Should they be of any cause of concern to India?

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