PM Oli is trying to mend ties with New Delhi to balance Prachanda-Madhav Nepal-led political move against him

Nepal Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has set his eyes on New Delhi to rescue himself from falling deep into the constitutional crisis of his own making. He appears to be desperate to reach out to India and it is clear in his impromptu announcement about the visit of Foreign Minister, Pradeep Kumar Gyawali to New Delhi for a Joint Commission meeting.

On January 8, while addressing a political rally in Kathmandu, Nepal Prime Minister Oli had announced that Foreign Minister Gyawali will be attending the Joint Commission meeting on 14 January.

However, India is yet to confirm the date of the Joint Commission meeting and the participation of the Nepal Foreign minister casting doubts over the Nepali Prime Minister’s announcements.

Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson, Anurag Srivastava in a press briefing on January 8, said: “The India’s Foreign Secretary during his visit to Nepal in November had extended an invitation to the Nepali foreign minister for the Joint Commission Meeting.” However, he said no date has been finalized for the Nepal Foreign Minister’s visit.

Oli’s recent statements are an indication of his government’s full-fledged attempt to reach out to New Delhi in a bid to extricate himself from the constitutional crisis of his own making.

Nepal is faced with a political crisis since December 20 when Prime Minister Oli dissolved the lower house of parliament and announced fresh elections in the Himalayan country. Oli, however, would be entitled to continue as the Prime Minister of the caretaker government, sending political circles into a tizzy.

China pressed into action and immediately asked its envoy in Kathmandu to try and rescue the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) from the split and end the political deadlock built up due to the spar between the party’s co-chairs Oli and Pushpa Kamal Dahal alias Prachanda. Beijing had a role in the unification of the communists in 2018 with the merger of NCP (UML) led by Oli and Prachanda’s CPN (Maoist).

Following Oli’s dissolution of the parliament, the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) headed for a split. China intensified its efforts to reunite the two fractions. However, neither Oli nor NCP’s co-chair Prachanda is ready to budge from their stand.

China’s machinations in the domestic politics of Nepal have pushed Oli to improve ties with India. In the recent months, Oli hosted India’s RAW Chief Samant Kumar Goel in October and Army Chief M Naravane in November, indicating a thaw in bilateral relations. Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla’s visit on November 26-27 helped further improve bilateral relations between the two countries.