April 14, 2018

Nepalese PM K.P. Oli visits India as Both Countries Hope to Turn the Page in Relations

Nepalese PM K.P. Oli visits India as Both Countries Hope to Turn the Page in Relations

Nepal’s Prime Minister, Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli, arrived in India Friday for a three-day visit. The visit comes after a major downturn in India-Nepal ties.

Background: In 2015, Nepal begandrafting a new Constitution. Oli, the Prime Minister then as well, was the primary architect of this Constitution and publicly rallied for it to be adopted, but India took an opposing point of view, arguing that the document did not address the concerns of certain communities. The episode culminatedwith India supporting a blockade by a group called the Madhesis in an attempt to generate pressure on Oli’s government by blocking supplies. However, Oli used India’s actions to push forth an ultra-nationalist, and even anti-India narrative, as well as call for closer ties with China. The episode ended with Oli and his coalition decisively beating a coalition backed by India in the general elections this year.

Prime Minister of Nepal K.P. Oli

Insight: This visit, therefore, is a crucial moment in the ties for both countries.  Both countries recognize that they need to move forward as they engage on important bilateral issues. But Nepal will continue to express a more assertive tone, especially as Oli seeks to ensure his country is treated as an equal in the relationship with India. India, on the other, will have to move past the strategic errors it has made since 2015, and try to repair ties and turn the tide in its relations with its immediate neighborhood. That means, as one Indian official said “putting the past behind us and presenting big ideas for moving ahead.”

Recommended Reading: Suhasini Haidar, the Diplomatic Affairs Editor atThe Hindu, conducted an exclusive interview with Prime Minister Oli in the lead-up to his visit to New Delhi. They discussed a whole host of issues, including the bilateral relations, ties with China, the Belt and Road Initiative, and Nepal’s Constitution going forward. Read the transcript of the interview here.