Hans Joachim Morgenthau- one of the major 20th century figures in the study of international relations had rightly said, "At the core of a nation's interest is survival which as it implies protection of physical, political and cultural identity against encroachments by other nation-states".

Nepal is in total turmoil. Internally, the government can't last because moves to unify factions have come to a naught. Oli and Prachanda are more in love with themselves than with the country. Externally, China seems to be gaining precarious control over its political leadership and time tested friend India appears to be getting increasingly suspicious of these two leaders and the party they belong to.

China's design is to tempt Nepal into its fold and use it as a base for its military posturing against India. China recognized the fact that religious and cultural affinities between India and Nepal could not be eliminated as they were historical realities. The only platforms to make foray into Nepal were through covert support to communists and through overt infrastructure development inducements. China –the cunning Expansionist used both.

The ruling Nepal Communist Party's Central Committee faction headed by executive Chairman 'Prachanda' has summarily sacked Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli from the post of Chairman. Disciplinary action against him shall be taken – the Committee has said. So the Party stands split more than two years after its formation. Madhav Kumar Nepal was nominated as Party's second Chairman in place of Oli - Prachanda being it's first Chairman."

"Now Dahal and Nepal will chair the meetings in turn as directed in the Party Statute - said Rekha Sharma, a Central Committee Member. Oli has been expelled as the Party Chair for going against the Party" – Rekha Sharma was quoted by the Kathmandu Post.

Nepal took a head long plunge into a political crisis after Oli got the President signatures to dissolve the Parliament – a controversial move amidst a prolonged tussle for power between him and former Premier Prachanda within the ruling dispensation. The intra-party feud between the two factions, one led by 68-year- old Oli and another led by 66-year-old 'Prachanda'; were instrumental in this development. Prachanda has a majority in the nine-member Secretariat, which also is the highest decision- making body of the Party.

President Bidya Devi Bhandari – hand in glove with Oli dissolved the House of Representatives and announced dates for mid-term elections at the recommendation of Oli . This has led to nation wide protests - right from a section of the ruling party, various opposition parties, Nepali Congress and the Nepalese Youth Dividend that has taken to streets.

At the centre of all this turmoil is Hou Yanki – the Chinese Ambassador in Nepal .It is a known fact that right from Nepal's President Bhandari to Prime Minister, other Senior Cabinet Ministers, Heads of Communalist Parties/Factions, Chief of Army Staff; others who matter ,Hou has held a number of meetings with them. Nepal Foreign Office has openly stated this as a flagrant; blatant violation of the diplomatic code of conduct. Hou enjoys a free access to the corridors of Nepalese powers.

Besides, she is Dragon's sheet anchor to "dragonize' Nepal to ensure that relations between India & Nepal always remain tense.

In fact, in late April and early May 2020, Hou had prevented the collapse of the government by holding back-to-back talks with the NCP leadership including Oli and Prachanda and senior leader Madhav Nepal. This unity, however, was short-lived as two months later, the Prachanda-led faction was back demanding Oli's resignation

While Nepal's voters are set to elect a new government in April-May even though the fate of this election remains uncertain, a constitutional bench of the Nepal Supreme Court is set to begin hearing at least a 13-15 petitions challenging the dissolution of the Nepal Parliament.

India termed Oli's decision to dissolve the Parliament and call for fresh elections as an internal matter of Nepal – and rightly so -as per its democratic processes.

It may be recalled that Oli had accused India of trying to oust him from power after the country's Parliament approved a new Nepal map, featuring Lipulekh, Kalapani, and Limpiyadhura areas which India maintains belong to her.

Guo Yezu - called the Chanakya of China has already reached Nepal along with a 11 Member Team to solve the Nepalese Political Crisis. Definitely, it was Oli's master stroke as he had finally realized that Dragon is NOT interested in him but in the Nepalese Communist Party! This uncalled; uninvited Chinese Party is having meetings after meetings with people who matter.

Guo has already met President Vidya Devi Bhandari, PM Oli; Prachanda. Guo wants that both Factions of the NCP should reunite. Xi is extremely worried about this development in Nepal.

Guo wants that Oli should take back the order of dissolving the Parliament. It is also heard that Guo has promised Oli a full 5 year term as Prime Minister. Oli so far is not prepared to listen to Guo but it is believed that Prachanda is repeatedly asking Dragon to intervene in the present political crisis.

China continues to meddle & intervene in the internal matters of Nepal from time to time. The Chinese Ambassador in Nepal pokes her nose in all Nepalese issues. It is not understood as to why a self respecting nation like Nepal is tolerating this brazen unabated temerity of the Chinese in interfering in their internal affairs. Both Hou Yanki & Guo have not succeeded so far; now Guo has invited SB Deuba President of the Nepalese Congress Party to visit China on the 100 th Anniversary of the CPC next year.

Stung badly by the developments in Nepal, China has now accused India in interfering in the internal politics / matters of Nepal; having employed intelligence sleuths/ agents to follow Chinese Delegation & cover Sino-Nepalese Talks. Very amusing indeed! The world body must condemn Chinese interference in Nepal's domestic /internal matters. Possibly, Nepal is under tremendous Chinese debt/ pressure. One can only pray that Nepal does not go the Hambantota way. What a pity !

Indians love Nepal and its people. Religious and cultural similarities, economic cooperation, Gurkha troops and their heroic contribution to our military history and achievements, visa free travel through borders, and hardworking and sincere Nepalese in Indian workplaces have all contributed to building a strong understanding, camaraderie and 'Roti-Beti' Bond between people of the two Nations.

An important factor that underpins our relations with Nepal is the strategic advantage Nepal's location affords by acting as a geographical shield between China and us. Any developments that could weaken this screen have tremendous implications for security of both Nations. Nepal too is aware that this reality provides it with very strong leverage in any negotiations with India.

India's instruments of foreign policy have ranged from diplomacy, economic aid including facilitating labour migration, alliances and treaties, and, on one occasion, economic coercion through blockade in 1989. Another blockade by its Madheshi protest occurred in 2015 but Nepal blamed India's involvement. These blockades and communist government in Nepal afforded China an opportunity to pull wool over Nepal's eyes by promising a more lucrative economic reliance.

How can we heal this wound? There is no doubt 'Tiger Balm' will only make it worse. The most effective balm is time tested, revival of old friendship. India has to take the lead.

We need to recognize that all nations have a national pride, irrespective of their size or importance in the world stage. Smaller nations are particularly sensitive to domination or neglect by larger ones. As it is, Nepali people, like most highlanders, are polite but reserved, down to earth, honest, proud, courageous and highly sentimental. Keeping these in mind, our diplomatic protocols should always be cognizant of Nepali sensibilities and pride.

A new beginning in Indo-Nepalese relations is the only answer. Both cannot survive without each other – and both are fully aware of this stark reality. And, it is bound to happen soon.

It is an acid test of India's Diplomacy and Political Leadership.

Dr. Mohan Bhandari

Lt. Gen. (Dr) Mohan Bhandari, also known as the Thinking General, was born in August 1946. A veteran of the 1971 Indo-Pak war, the general has spent a number of years combating counter-insurgency/terrorist operations in Jammu and Kashmir and various other parts of the country. He is the proud recipient of three Presidential awards presented for his exceptional services to the nation. He was the Indian Army's face for both print and electronic media. The general is a rare mix of a successful soldier, erudite scholar, a powerful orator, a prolific writer, and a gifted painter. At present, he is a visiting faculty member at the Academic Staff Colleges of the UGC, universities, and schools of instructions.

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