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Nepali foreign minister visits India amid political uncertainty


Nepali foreign minister visits India amid political uncertainty

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Photo: PMIndia

Nepali Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali will today begin a two-day state visit to India.

The visit comes two days after Nepali President Bidhya Devi Bhandari dissolved parliament at the request of Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Oli and announced general elections for April and May of 2021. Leaders of Nepal’s governing, pro-Beijing Nepal Communist Party (NCP) have accused NCP Chairman Oli of ignoring NCP recommendations on government decisions and appointments. Oli hopes a fresh mandate will ease tensions in the fledgling democracy.

Should Nepal’s Supreme Court uphold the constitutionality of Oli’s move—NCP leadership is preparing to challenge the action in Kathmandu’s highest court—this divide within NCP ranks could lead to considerable gains by the opposition Nepali Congress party in the general elections. While it is unlikely that the NCP will lose its supermajority in parliament, opposition gains could affect foreign relations. If NCP sees losses, expect more pressure on Kathmandu to forge closer ties to India, potentially moving Nepal’s alignment in the standoff in Ladakh toward support for New Delhi. This pressure would also likely encourage India to increase its diplomatic efforts toward Nepal, possibly by offers for bilateral trade deals or development aid.

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