N. P. Upadhyaya,: The Indian Chief of the Army Staff Manoj Naravne primarily deserves appreciation in that he was the one who in a way had challenged and in the process encouraged/prompted the Nepal government led by veteran communist Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli to publish a new-updated-political map of Nepal that incorporates now the India swallowed Nepali lands.
Naravne told a media gathering in India that protest over Lipulek in Nepal were the handiwork of China and that the Nepali population were just the proxy protester.
The Indian COAS spoke not befitting to his post. He should have understood the gravity of the post he is currently occupying.
Small man in high office? Could be!
The Nepal Government accepted the challenge from across the border in the South.
The domestic pressure too was building on the Nepal government which is presumed to have an excessive India bend, for the publication of a new map.
The government took the needed courage and the Cabinet endorsed the new map in no time.
“Nepal Government-Cabinet has endorsed a new political map that includes Kalapani and Limpiyadhura. A special meeting of the Nepal Cabinet Monday evening, May 18/2020, approved the new map. The government will soon publicize the new political map that incorporates the territories unilaterally gulped by India on its side of the border”, Nepal’s media agencies have reported.
The second challenge surprisingly emanated from within.
Giri’s unwarranted outburst against Nepal government came a day or two after Manoj Naravne’s comical allegation that protests over Lipulek in Nepal had been the handiwork of China.
Though Giri and Naravne talked at two different places, however, the gist of both the remarks against Nepal were somewhat matching. And this created confusion as to how the two comments matched? Not a mystery now. The mystery has already been decoded by experts in the political circuit of Kathmandu.
Sarita Giri, a member of Nepali parliament on May 16/2020 had openly threatened that “Nepal should not publish the new political map without consulting the immediate neighbors India and China”.
However, the government led by Prime Minister Oli duly published the map apparently accepting the threat loaded challenge that it was from the Indian COAS and Sarita Giri.
Upon the release of the new political map of Nepal, a beaming Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, Yogesh Bhattarai said that the decision of the cabinet on Monday, May 17/2020 will be written in golden letters, reports the Republica, one of the prominent English language dailies of Nepal.
Minister Bhattarai added that “the date and the decision of the cabinet taken on Monday will be asked in all quiz contests for ages to come”.
It is indeed is a ‘historic decision’ of the Nepal government, added Minister Bhattarai.
Similarly, the Finance Minister Yubraj Khatiwada, who is also the communication minister, said that the updated-map of the country will be used everywhere, including school textbooks, the government’s seal, and for all administrative works, reports the Kathmandu Post May 19/2020.
Political analyst Saurav aka Dinesh Raj Satyal talking to AP television says that with this fresh step taken by Nepal, the nervous Indian administration is likely to use all the tricks and also play dirty games and activate its notorious agencies based in the dark corners of Kathmandu in order to thwart the Nepali step and so the Nepal government and its responsible units must remain alert to foil the likely Indian nefarious designs.
Saurabh further says that “we may lose few thousand precious lives in the grand-tussle, but at least for this time we have to fight with India to sound the Indian side that brave Gorkhas are still alive and kicking”.
Interestingly, columnist Sitaram Bhattarai writes for the People’s Review Weekly dated May 16/2020 in his meaning loaded article titled “Don’t believe the ‘coward king, army should come forth”, that in case of a possible war with India, Nepal though can’t imagine a physical war and confrontation with the Southern neighbor but yet we have to be ready for such a war…..to fight against India, Nepal Army isn’t alone. We can get help and support from a part of the Indian Army called the Gorkha Regiment. They are brave and experienced in cross border fighting. They are Nepalese, so ready to die for their own nation rather than the employer that is India.
Sitaram Bhattarai further states in his article that a rough data showed more than 25,000 Nepalese currently serve in the Indian Army’s Gorkha Rifles. There are roughly another 20000 Gorkhas in Indian paramilitary and police force”.
Understandably, the Gorkha Rifles serving the Indian republic as of now shall not tolerate India pouncing upon Nepal and if so then Nepal Army plus the Gorkha regiment in India will be sufficient to face the Indian Army’s possible assault on Nepal in case the border dispute talks fail.
However, war is not the answer to the present Nepal-India standoff. The best solution would be to sort out the land dispute if India returns all those Nepali landmass which it had swallowed at different intervals of time after the Sugauli Treaty.
Observers in Nepal say that India may retaliate sooner than later by opening its usual cards from under its sleeves which for example would possibly be to “destabilize” first and secondly penalize Nepal by imposing yet another Economic Blockade.
For this penal actions on Nepal, India may receive support from the same set of Nepali nationals who have had assisted the enemy-neighbor across the border in the South during the last Economic Blockade, 2015, if one were to recall.
And no wonder then those who had visibly sided with India while Nepal was being penalized in 2015 have so far not lauded the Nepal government’s sudden decision to publish the new political map. It may take some time more to them to “digest” and “adjust” with the changed reality brought about by the sudden move taken by Prime Minister Oli’s administration.
Meanwhile, the People’s Review Weekly dated May 18/2020 in Kathmandu introduces Sarita Giri as follows:
“She is a MP from the Socialist Party. She is always concerned about the Indian interests rather than Nepal’s. So far, she is an Indian national married to a Nepali citizen”.
In the meanwhile, a noted political analyst of Nepal, Kamal Dev Bhattari in his fresh article “China’s silence adds to Nepal’s woes on Lipulek” published in the Annapurna Express (online) dated May 18/2020 quotes a Chinese expert Lin Minwang, Professor at Institute of International Studies at Fudan University who closely follows China’s South Asia policy, as saying that “India has territorial issues with all its neighboring countries, and has always insisted on a tough position on territorial disputes, which is not conducive to a stable and peaceful environment.” On the other hand, he adds, China has resolved most of its border problems with the 14 countries with which it shares borders. Professor Lin thinks that India should learn from China’s “experience and political will” in resolving border issue with its neighbors. He says that it is ‘unwise’ of India’s high-ranking officials to imply that China is behind the current border dispute between Nepal and India”.
Senior political observer Kamal Dev Bhattarai further says that “Kathmandu expects China, a stakeholder in this Lipulek territory dispute, to tell India that the new road can come into operation only after addressing Nepal’s sovereignty and territorial integrity concerns. A former Nepali diplomat says that in 2015, China overlooked the issue when it signed the agreement with India, and China will now have to speak up sooner or later.
The need of the hour in Nepal is now to unite.
United we stand, divided we will be made to fall. That’s all.