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Nepal PM Deuba flags Neighbours’ First policy nailing special ties with India followed by China

Nepal PM Sher Bahadur Deuba

As Nepal Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba completes a month in office, his actions would now be scrutinised with a fine toothcomb. Deuba’s Nepali Congress along with its five coalition partners has rolled out a common minimum programme (CMP) just a few days ago. 

According to the Himalayan Times, the CMP has underlined the need to resolve issues relating to the Limpiyadhura, Kalapani and Lipulek region through diplomatic means with India. The region was included in the national map of Nepal following its endorsement by the federal Parliament last year. The CMP underlined the need for Nepal to adopt a ‘Neigbour’s First’ policy while striking cordial relations with the other countries as well.

Also read: After winning confidence vote, Deuba has levers to shape Nepal’s destiny

“Nepal, under this government will be interested in maintaining good relations with all its neighbours. Nepal needs Beijing and China has been a good neighbour to us but India will remain special, China cannot replace India,” Udaya Shumsher Rana, former minister of state for finance and a member of Nepali Congress told India Narrative.

Deuba will have to delicately resolve issues as he leads a rather fragile coalition government. He will have to do a fine balancing job. While Deuba will have to take the other coalition partners along he will also have to keep his own citizens happy while maintaining steady relations with India as well as China.

“For India, Nepal is of strategic importance. India is committed to strengthening bilateral relations with Kathmandu,” Gopal Krishna Agarwal, BJP’s spokesperson said, adding that Nepal was one of the first countries Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited after assuming office.

Also read: Concerned China will closely monitor India-Nepal developments

While around 6 lakh Indians are living in Nepal about 8 lakh Nepalese have made India their home.

Nepal will also look for Indian support to boost its Covid 19 pandemic ravaged economy. 

In an article, the Beijing headquartered Global Times, noted that “the Nepali Congress will likely lead the country’s foreign policy towards a “favorable direction for India.” However, it also maintained that despite this Nepal’s relations with China will remain solid.

The news organisation noted that if Nepal wants to participate in world economic and trade activities, it must first go through Indian soil. “It can be said the key to Nepal's access to the world lies in India's hands. Moreover, Hinduism is the main and largest religion of Nepal. Therefore, no matter which party is in power, India's influence cannot be avoided,” said, adding that Deuba’s rise to power may tilt the country “a bit” toward India.

However, it added that Nepal-China relations would continue to remain strong.

“The future is bright for Indo-Nepal relations and there is so much untapped potential,” Bhaskar Koirala Director of the Nepal Institute of International and Strategic Studies said.

According to the Indian Embassy in Nepal, New Delhi’s development assistance to the South Asian nation is a broad-based programme focusing on creation of infrastructure at the grass-roots level, under which various projects have been implemented in the areas of infrastructure, health, water resources, education and rural & community development.