Pushpa Kamal Dahal aka ‘Prachand’ has taken over as the new Prime Minister of Nepal. The Maoist leader’s return to power could be a source of concern for India, which already has complicated relations.
Prachand led the Maoist guerrilla movement in India’s closest neighbor Nepal during the civil war between 1996 and 2006. He also played an important role in ending the 240-year-old monarchy in the country and establishing a parliamentary democracy.
Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, US President Joe Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi have also congratulated him on assuming the post of Prime Minister.
Pushpa Kamal Dahal became the 44th Prime Minister of Nepal and held the post for the third time. He was made the first Prime Minister of Nepal in 2008 and was still holding the post in 2016. According to analysts, Prachand’s appointment as Nepal’s prime minister could increase India’s concerns, as relations between Kathmandu and Delhi have not been as cordial as before.
Shashank Mattoo, an international affairs expert and fellow at the Observer Research Foundation, a prominent think tank, says Prachand’s dramatic return on Christmas Day is a surprise for India. Especially in the context of India’s neighborly policy and countering China’s growing influence, Nepal is of particular importance to Delhi. At least it is certain that Prachand’s return to the post of Prime Minister is a cause for concern for India in the context of complicated relations between Delhi and Kathmandu, Mattu wrote in one of his articles.
Fluctuations in Prachand-India relations
Mattu said Prachand had been the leader of the Maoist movement, which opposed Indian influence in Nepal and fought against the Indian-backed Royal Nepal Army. However, he also worked with India to bring the Maoist parties into the political mainstream and stabilize the democratic transition in the country.
Pushpa Kamal Dahal lived in hiding in India for a long time during the civil war in his country and led the Maoist movement from there. There have been many ups and downs in the relations between Prachand and India.
Prachand blamed India for his ouster from power in 2009 and 2017, and began to bring Nepal closer to China. He has also had differences of opinion with New Delhi on some regional issues. Despite this, he has held periodic talks with India and in July this year met ruling BJP president JP Nadda in New Delhi.
Growing proximity of Nepal and China
Prachand broke a half-century-old tradition of the country after the end of the monarchy and the establishment of democracy in Nepal. Unlike his predecessors, he made his first visit to India after assuming the post of the country’s first Prime Minister in 2008, instead of visiting China. There are reports that Prachand will go to Beijing on his first foreign visit after assuming the post of Prime Minister.
Prachand’s most important ally, KP Sharma Oli, had stepped up efforts to strengthen ties with Beijing during his tenure. During his tenure, territorial conflicts between India and Nepal in many areas including Kala Pani and Lipu Lekh became more prominent.
Retired Lt. Gen. Prakash Katuch, a defense expert, says that after the communists come back to power in Nepal, India should expect Kathmandu to rekindle regional issues. And this country will support the China-Pakistan alliance against India.
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