Pushpa Kumar Dahal (Prachanda) is set to be the next Prime Minister of Nepal. This comes as a major relief to India which had shared a cold relationship with former prime minister K.P. Oli thanks to his China tilt.
Oli in his outgoing speech had blamed "external forces," for his ouster. The stage is set for Prachanda to take over as PM, but the process may take a few weeks as Nepal's President will likely ask its Parliament to elect a new PM by consensus.
Who are the "external forces" Oli blamed?
Oli, without naming anyone, said Nepal is being developed as a laboratory and foreign elements are conspiring to ensure that the Himalayan nation's new Constitution is not implemented. Clearly, Oli was pointing fingers at India. But did India have a role in his ouster?
Highly placed sources say Oli is making false allegations to cover up his own failure. The writing
was on the wall from the time he took over and handled the Madhesi protest in a ham-handed manner.
"His style of functioning was bound to fail. We always only said that the Constitution of Nepal needs to be inclusive", the top Indian official said.
For India, though, the fall of Oli is more than welcome. His anti-Indian sentiment led him to treat Madhesis, who constitute 51 per cent of the population of Nepal, inequitably. This led to crippling blockades along the Indo-Nepal border.
Instead of resolving their issues, Oli sought to show India that he could instead rely on Chinese help to run the country. His confidence bolstered by a few trucks of petroleum shipments from China, Oli went on to project his anti-India sentiment across the country, leaving a majority of Nepalese unhappy.
In India, the Modi government had come in for severe criticism over its handling of the Nepal issue. "We watched the developments all through, but it was patience that paid off", the official added.
India had a two pronged approach in Nepal. A change of government as well as ensuring that the Madhesis get their constitutional rights, but in contrast to Oli's high-pitched anti-India tirade, India decided to be mellow and discreet. Key to this approach were National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and
Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar.
Neither will India get too proactive now, the official said. It will continue to play a wait and watch game, while working on improving relations with the new regime.
Will Prachanda be more friendly?
China has built up anti-India rhetoric and sentiment in Nepal over a period of time. In fact, at one point of time, it had managed to change even Prachanda's mind about India. Prachanda, however, realised that ground realities were that a majority of Nepalese were not in favour of China's role in their country.
He also realised that the growing anti-Oli sentiment was due to the latter's proximity to China and his cold vibes towards India. Indeed, as Oli began to appear shaky, China even sent in a team to steady his hold over power by intervening between him and his political partners. The Chinese intervention failed, however.
India does have a lot more hope in Prachanda. He is seen as far more balanced in his foreign policy as well as his view of India's role. He has also made it clear that he was unhappy with Oli's handling of the Madhesi crisis and his tilt towards China.