Modi’s win and Nepal

Editorial

India’s politically fragile northern neighbour is closely watching events unfold in the Asian giant to the south following the landslide election victory of Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party led by Narendra Modi.

Mindful of the key role played by India in its political transition and New Delhi’s immense leverage in the country, observers in Nepal are seeking clues to likely policy in the region.

Meanwhile, many in the country - the world’s only Hindu monarchy until it was abolished in a stunning vote by the constituent assembly- have high hopes on Modi’s victory prompting a revival of Hinduism. The victory of Narendra Modi is good news for Nepal and Nepal is sure it will receive his goodwill. Modi in his first reaction on foreign affairs, expressed commitment to strengthening relations with Nepal becaude Nepal is an old and deeply valued friend.

Nepal’s fate has always been closely intertwined with India, which shares an 1,800km open border with the landlocked nation and provides it with crucial imports.
Indian officials and leaders of the then ruling Indian National Congress and Communist Party of India (Marxist) played a critical role in the 2005 deal struck in New Delhi that paved the way for an end to a 10-year Maoist rebellion and growing protests against the unpopular king.

When the 240-year-old Hindu monarchy was abolished in 2008 and the country became a secular, federal, democratic republic, it angered BJP leaders, who criticised New Delhi for being a “silent onlooker” while the king was ousted “under the pressure of Maoists”.

There may not be a drastic change in India’s foreign policy, but that Modi may take more interest in its neighbour.

India is a regional power. It will pursue a balanced foreign policy. There are countries that it will have to pay respect to and there are countries which it can exert its power over. So, the approach would be to maintain a balance.

There is no shortage of pro-Hindu organisations in Nepal, where 80 percent of people are Hindus and fundamentalist groups such as Shiva Sena Nepal that are linked to their Indian counterparts. That Rastriya Prajatantra Party-Nepal, a pro-Hindu, pro-monarchy party and the fourth largest in the assembly, seeks to be Modi’s ally is no secret in Kathmandu.

Kamal Thapa, its articulate chairman - who has been likened to Modi for his populist appeal - travelled to Gujarat to meet the BJP leader before he launched his election campaign.

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