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Expect Oli to stand the ground given the tempo

Staff Writer, KATHMANDU: With the nation behind him foursquare and tempo rising, Prime Minister K P Oli has all the chances of holding the ground and putting forth Nepalese point of view in talk with his Indian counterpart Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Under changing dynamics when the Chinese side has been sympathetic to Nepal and offering to upgrade friendship, sitting in talks with the Indian side will be all about playing the card right.

Notable fact is the Indian side this time around is playing both the witch and the shaman vis-a- vis Nepal, given what has just visited the country and given the invitation extended to prime minister K P Oli to visit India when he had been planning to go to China.

With this as backdrop Prime Minister Oli has come out saying he will not sign anything that compromises territorial integrity, sovereignty, independence and self-respect of the nation.

He has already earned accolades for going on the record saying “sovereignty cannot be big and small depending on the size of the nation.” He had said this insinuating at Indian posture in the midst of the economic blockade.

However he is yet to stand the test in the course of the visit that begins on February 19 and ends on February 23. Admittedly a four-day visit in the Indian capital makes it a virtual political and diplomatic marathon, with Nepalese side never really standing the test and falling into traps.

Veteran leader K P Bhattarai had fallen in such traps when he said that rivers are common and can be exploited for common benefits when he visited India in 1991 as interim prime minister. He had later come under criticism for over-stepping on the issue of give and take.

Given the pitfalls of the past, no one can contest the need for striking political understanding among the political parties on vital areas of national interest before the visit takes place and concessions made.

No one can underestimate the need for arriving at a bottom-line across the political spectrum, more especially so between three major political parties CPN-UML, UCPN-Maoist and Congress party whenever coming to a view point on issues related to India and Nepal jointly.

The need to come to common position becomes all the more essential this time around. That is largely because while the Indian side led by dynamic Modi can come up with something huge to implement given his inclination.

While appearing to be friend of Nepal he has demonstrated that he can be a ruthless taskmaster and businessman and thus highly likely to propose agenda that do not necessarily work out a good deal for Nepal. But the world is yet to know although PM Oli may be in the know.

Given his speed Modi may come up with package deal that offers Nepal something attractive while taking away benefits by derivative deals that is designed to benefit India.

Given also how the Nepalese side have historically failed to deal with India in ways that throws up more benefits to Nepal time has come to upgrade the level of engagement with India and go for major projects on river harnessing.

Implementation of only bigger projects can lead to bigger opportunities even if that does not fully meet the Nepalese aspirations and demands given the cost of non-implementation.

In questions are projects like Pancheswore and Koshi high dam, both of which are mega-projects billed to change the face of nation if taken up for implementation with renewed political commitment on the parts of all the political parties.

Meanwhile Oli can put up a face of a taskmaster too by underlining that there are strong anti-Indian sentiments in Nepal currently and any further undermining of Nepalese interests cannot be expected to lead to any conducive atmosphere for mega-project implementation.

Published Date: Saturday, February 13th, 2016 | 09:15 PM

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