Influence of China and India in Nepal’s Current Left-Wing Politics


Influence of China and India in Nepal’s Current Left-Wing Politics

Nepal is still in transition from political upheavals and system change, namely, authoritarian regime, civil war, frequent party formations and splits, and revolutionary movements for building current Nepal. Nepalese politics has always been regarded disconnected from public’s interest. Political parties of Nepal have struggled to build policies reflecting its citizens’ identity and will. As to discourage the uncertainty and instability in the governing system of Nepal, Nepal Communist Party (NCP) was formed on May 17, 2018, from the merger of two leftist giants; Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML) and Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist Center (CPN-MC), missionizing socialism and economic prosperity through social justice. This left-alliance formation is not guided by any of its previous thoughts of Marxism, Leninism or Maoism. Rather it has put forward its own ‘NCP path’ towards being an inclusively secular federal state aiming for civic republicanism.

NCP proclaimed to be the first democratically elected ruling communist party after winning the majority seats in The House of Representatives and Provincial Assemblies. The overall period during NCP formation and General Legislative Election of 2017 had become a subject of interest to the world, mainly to China and India. History has shown Nepal to be pro-India from the time when monarchs and feudal lords used Hinduism and army to exercise power.[1] India’s influence over the sovereignty of Nepal has imposed fault lines among the political parties of Nepal, the economic blockade of 2015 imposed for denying to make specific changes in the new Constitution of Nepal 2072 as a prime example. China and Nepal, on the other hand, have a long history of economic and cultural co-operation which is now more or less associated with each of the country’s political agendas. China’s current approach of building the new era of socialism with Chinese characteristic, offering options for nation to develop while maintaining their independence[2], rightly fits in the prospect of NCP. Hence, China has always been closely observing the activities of the leftist parties of Nepal.

Both India and China had its vested interest in the General Legislative Election of 2017. China wanted to add one more communist ruling party in the world and take the count to 6 from 5, while India wanted to keep its influence over Nepal by hoping the merger of NCP to fail. Both the southern and northern neighbors of Nepal did not officially declare its support to any parties, however, the frequent visits of leftist leaders to India and especially China, and the developments made thereafter have us to conclude India’s and China’s association in the formation of NCP.

The close relation of Nepalese parties with China and India have made all tiers of Nepalese government to reform and restate their structure of governance. India’s supporting part in Terai-Madhes movement, constantly pressurizing political parties to make all Madhes as one single province, being one notable incident. India was in support to this because the whole Madhes as one province would act as a natural border for Chinese interference. CPN-MC leader PK Dahal soon came on board after his visit to China to support the promulgation of the constitution. After the Constitution of Nepal 2072 was promulgated, CPN-MC and Nepali Congress (NC) grew closer to India as to accommodate India’s demands, while CPN-UML strengthened its ties with China. With the history of Sino-Indian war and Doklam standoff, China and India have always been in the race of being a regional hegemon. Although China claims that it has no strategic, economic, or political intentions regarding the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), India insists that BRI is a way to encircle and contain India with Chinese influence.[3]

There is no shortage of evidence to clarify China’s influence over Nepalese politics. As to the question of how China supported the victory of NCP as the ruling party of Nepal, the answer received was high-level sources informing Chinese president Xi Jingping’s visit to Nepal shortly after the election, which was just a statement made by China in support to NPC. The co-chairman of NCP PK Dahal’s visit to India just a few days before his visit to China, is NPC’s way of balancing both the neighbors to maintain the relation Nepal has built over the years. It came in as a surprise when Nepal suddenly pulled out from BIMSTEC military drill in India and cited internal political pressure to be the reason, which is itself questionable when NCP is in unassailable majority in the parliament. It can add onto the fact that NCP, being the ruling party now, is coming out of India’s sphere of influence and is growing its relation with China.

With a communist party ruling Nepal, the world has now questioned Nepal’s democracy and freedom of press. In the west-driven current world order, communism has always been taken as a form of totalitarian government system, hence a higher possibility of resulting in a failed state. NCP’s co-chairman PK Dahal has accused the US and its allies for plotting an imperialist coup over Venezuela’s current political situation, ushering the benefit of doubt over NPC’s intention of being pro-China. In the recent developments on Nepal’s series of events over Venezuela issue, the two leaders of the ruling party have expressed their disagreements on each other’s stands, KP Oli stating that the party’s official stance on the issue would not have been made, had he been present here in Nepal.[4]  This faction war has led these two leaders to develop distrust while having no clue about each other’s recent activities and statements. NCP has committed to a stable government for 5 years as none others have completed its full terms.

Politics is unpredictable. China has now aggressively raised its base on political parties, academics and industries in Nepal, funneling numbers of infrastructure project by Chinese companies, many of which have been awarded without the tendering process.[5] It’s for the NCP to respect the popular mandate by working on all spheres of nation building with or without the support of any of our neighbors. Hope is not what Nepal needs now, it’s the acute economic revolution that NCP ought to bring after the political revolution of the left alliance.

  1. [1] Krishna Hachhethu. “Legitimacy Crisis of Nepali Monarchy.” Economic and Political Weekly. May 2007.
  2. [2] “Secure a Decisive Victory in Building a Moderately Prosperous Society in All Respects and Strive for the Great Success of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era.” 19th National Congress of Communist Party of China. October 17, 2017
  3. [3] Sutirtho Patranobis. “Rising Hindu nationalism has hijacked India’s China policy: Chinese media.” The Hindustan Times. July 21, 2017.
  4. [4] Anil Giri and Tika R Pradhan. “Fault lines in ruling party exposed as Oli, Dahal spar over Venezuela.” The Kathmandu Post. February 8, 2019.
  5. [5] Francesca Marino. “Chinese Dream : How the Dragon is sneaking into its neighborhood and beyond.” Stringerasia. February 4, 2019.

Author: Kunja Rai

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