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India, China Spar Over Nepal
Tug of war intensifies
By: Neeta Lal
The India-China tug of war for regional primacy is now playing itself out over Nepal amid a deepening political crisis in the Himalayan nation in the wake of the dissolution of Parliament in Kathmandu and the sacking of the caretaker Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli (above) from the ruling Nepal Communist Party.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has been keeping a wary eye on China’s efforts to broker peace between Oli and his main rival, Pushpa Kamal Dahal, whose nom de guerre is Prachanda, in order to keep things stable. A troubled and factious communist party, which China backs openly, augurs well for India but policy pundits say it may be too early to celebrate.
“Beijing has far from given up on its self-appointed role as mediator in Nepal. It won’t do so either as it hopes to wield influence in shaping a new government favorable to its interests,” said Amit Kashyap, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, Delhi University.
A change of regime in Kathmandu, which India secretly wishes for, might not necessarily bring India-Nepal’s currently tense relations back on track – at least not until Delhi can be sure that the new government won’t be a Beijing puppet, Kashyap said.