Nepal PM Oli alleges ‘efforts’ to oust him after territorial dispute with India

In what could be a sign of Nepal government’s increasing dissonance with India, Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli on Sunday claimed that efforts are being made to oust him after his government redrew the country’s political map by incorporating three strategically key Indian territories. “Efforts are being made to remove me from power, but that will not succeed,” Oli claimed, without naming anyone in particular.

He said nobody has openly asked him to quit. “But I have smelt undercurrent movements,” Oli said while speaking at an event to commemorate the 69th birth anniversary of the popular leader of the Nepal Communist Party late Madan Bhandari at the prime minister’s residence. “There have been various kinds of activities in the embassies and hotels,” he claimed.  He said some Nepalese leaders were also involved in the game to remove him immediately.

The differences between Prime Minister Oli and his opponents including the ruling party’s executive chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda” have surfaced during the ongoing Standing Committee meeting of the party.

Oli, who faced criticism within his party for skipping the first and the second day of the Standing Committee meetings, attended the third meeting on Saturday, but briefly. He, however, did not speak at the meeting. “In the past when I signed trade agreements with Beijing, my minority government collapsed. But this time we have a government with a full-fledged majority, so no one can remove me now,” Oli said on Sunday.

Nepal’s relations with Beijing

In 2015, India’s relations with Nepal came under severe strain. Madhesis, mostly of Indian-origin, had launched a six-month-long agitation during K.P. Sharma Oli’s premiership, from September 2015 to February last year, in which more than 50 people were killed. The agitation crippled Nepal’s economy as supplies from India were blocked. Since then, China has been active in Nepal and has invested hugely, helping the landlocked country in laying new roads including connecting it to Tibet for the transportation of petroleum and other essential products, ostensibly to help Kathmandu cut dependence on India. “I did not commit any mistake by claiming our land, which has been snatched from us for the past 58 years after Nepal enjoyed the rights over these areas for 146 years,” Oli said. 

China is also planning to lay a strategic railway network connecting Kathmandu and Shigatse in Tibet where it would join an existing railway line to Lhasa, Tibet’s capital. China has also offered Nepal four ports for shipment of goods to the country which previously had to rely heavily on routes through India. Nepal shares a border of over 1,850 km with five Indian states of Sikkim, West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

Nepal-India disagreements

Nepal this month completed the process of redrawing the country’s political map through a Constitutional amendment, incorporating three strategically important Indian areas.

India has termed as “untenable” the “artificial enlargement” of the territorial claims by Nepal after its Parliament unanimously approved the new political map of the country featuring Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura areas which India maintains belong to it.

The India-Nepal bilateral ties came under strain after Defence Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated a 80-km-long strategically crucial road connecting the Lipulekh pass with Dharchula in Uttarakhand on May 8.

Nepal reacted sharply to the inauguration of the road claiming that it passed through Nepalese territory. India rejected the claim asserting that the road lies completely within its territory.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a senior leader of the ruling NCP told PTI that Oli’s indication was his opponents within the ruling party, not from outside.

“There has been growing differences within the ruling party and the Prime Minister is being cornered within his own party and his own colleagues are criticising the government’s performance,” he said.

Another NCP leader said that Oli’s absence in the first two days of the meetings showed the growing differences between him and Prachanda. Prachanda has time and again spoken about the lack of coordination between the government and the party and he was pressing for a one-man one position system to be followed by the NCP. 

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