In what it construes to be a diplomatic offensive, the Communist government in the Himalayan nation Nepal, on the behest of China has provoked its neighbour India by not only releasing a new political map consisting Indian regions of Limpiyadhura, Lipulekh and Kalapani as parts of Nepal but also pinning the blame of the spread of coronavirus in Nepal on India.
Displaying his arrogance and ignorance, the Nepal Prime Minister had claimed that Indian virus to be “more virulent” than the coronavirus that ravaged Italy and China. The dangerous diplomatic manoeuvre by Nepal govt to alter the status quo is not just being condemned by India, but also within the society of Nepal as the pro-Indian people of Nepal has taken offence against communist government’s recent anti-India rhetoric.
However, as history has shown, especially, in the most of the cases associated with despotic governments, it is not the will of the ‘elected’ governments but the will of the people which decides the fate of such governments. Particularly, in Nepal’s case, the communist government, alleged to be a ‘puppet’ at the hands of China, seems to be losing the confidence of its own people following its repeated anti-India stance.
The Nepalese populace, ardent Hindu followers, have often chosen what is right for them and has gone to the extent of revolting against the existing political structure to achieve what is best for its nation’s interest. With communists in Nepal are increasingly moving against India, another political revolution in the Himalayan nations may soon be on the cards.
Is Nepal going Sikkim way?
From a being buffer state during British era to being ruled by monarchs and to its later shift towards democracy, the Himalayan country has seen a lot of political turbulence. The constant feud between the country’s long-ruling monarchs and the masses has resulted in perpetual instability in the country’s political structure.
Ever since Parliamentary democracy was introduced in Nepal in the early 50s, it has already been suspended twice by the Nepalese monarch. The Himalayan country has also experienced a civil war more than once, first in the 1990s and then later in 2000s, resulting in the abolition of the monarchy and to be replaced by a ‘secular republic’ in 2008, ending the world’s last Hindu monarchy.
The common masses of Nepal have always found a way to impose their political will to further their interests and well being of the country. As per the early signs, the Himalayan country seems to be on a cusp of another major turn in its political system. The increasing proximity towards China followed by the anti-India rhetoric, perhaps, has sown a seed for another major revolution in the erstwhile Himalayan Kingdom.
Interestingly, the latest geopolitical shift in Nepal has a striking similarity with the case of India’s Himalayan state of Sikkim. The rulers of Sikkim, who had enjoyed relatively much more autonomy than other states soon after Indian independence, had attempted to exert its own influence over India by going against the will of their people, however, ended up completely merging with the Indian union while losing its erstwhile limited amount of autonomy.
In 1947, Sikkim under the rule of the Chogyal Kings had joined India union, as a result of which Sikkim’s foreign policy, security and communications were left to Indian government. However, Sikkim retained a small amount of independence.
Palden Thondup Chogyal, Sikkim’s last monarch, began to exert his own influence by involving foreign powers in its affairs to gain some kind of leverage against the country. However, the people of Sikkim were very much against the anti-India stand of Chogyal, resulting in a rebellion in the small Himalayan state.
The increasing interference by foreign powers in Sikkim’s affairs caused a scare in the country, leading to people of Sikkim hitting the streets to dethrone the ruling monarch of the Himalayan state. A referendum was soon held in which people of the state overwhelmingly voted in favour of the complete merger of Sikkim into the union of India. In 1975, Sikkim merged completely with India, becoming the 22nd state.
The Sikkim’s merger with India, perhaps, teaches a lesson for the ruling communist government of Hindu-majority country of Nepal, who have lately shown extra-enthusiasm to exert its influence against India, which has historically supported the impoverished nation in its developmental agenda.
The general will of the common Nepalese has always been inclined towards India, who considers the country to be the cradle of the Hindu civilisation. Any bravado by the Communist government against neighbouring India will invoke a strong resentment within the Nepalese society, which could even create another major political transition in the country, including creating an existential crisis to the Himalayan nation.
India, as the big brother to the entire South Asian region, has always been respectful for its neighbours and has tried to stay away from the country’s internal affairs. At the same time, India has always been cautious about its national security interests and has time-and-again taken important steps to keep its security interests intact.
Perhaps, Nepal could learn a bit or two from the island country of Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan government headed by Mahinda Rajapaksa, which had tried to bargain India with the China-card, was faced with the anger of Sri Lankan public in 2015, who threw them out of power and enabled a pro-Indian government led by Maithripala Sirisena to take over the reigns of the island nation.
Nevertheless, at the end of all, it is still the will of common masses, who has every bit of awareness regarding what is best for them and their homeland. We can just wait to see whether the popular resentment of the Nepalese will grow larger and dethrone the communist government, who then may replace it with the age-old monarchs or may be a merger with its eternal philosopher-friend India.