An Indian Express article by Yaburaj Ghimire published on April 25th , original titled: “Next door Nepal – China is welcome, India is not”.
Last week, Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli laid the foundation of Pokhara international airport, Nepal’s second, being built with Chinese assistance and soft loans.
Oli was joined by Maoist party chief, Prachanda, and all major party leaders in a show of appreciation for the Chinese initiative likely to be completed in four years. And in a strange coincidence, this happened during a particular phase when Nepal-India relations have suddenly nose dived.
China making much inroads into Nepal is something even the Indian authorities have come to acknowledge. But what divides the Indian response is whether it’s at the cost of India’s image, influence and interest in its crucially important neighbourhood. Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar sarcastically congratulated Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) and External Affairs Minister (Sushma Swaraj) for having “successfully pushed Nepal to the arms of China”. Some people think the “anti-Indianism” in Nepal is the doing of only a small group of “hill elites” confined to Kathmandu.
Oli and the ruling coalition are getting positive responses from people across the country for having bravely stood up to India. Although this doesn’t guarantee Oli’s survival in power for long, he is praised by many for his efforts to oppose the influence coming from outside (i.e India) in Nepal’s politics and constitution-making.
The foundation laying of the Pokhara airport was formalised with a rare show of solidarity among Nepal’s political parties. Nepal is already considering waving the visa fee for the Chinese. At the same time, the relationship between India and Nepal is clearly losing the much talked about component of being “special”.