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Indian General Elections and Nepal

For centuries, India and Nepal have shared a very close relationship. Geographic proximity supplemented by cultural and religious similarity have helped the two neighbors remain friendly.

Now winds of change have swept Kathmandu and New Delhi is not too thrilled about it. After the Maoists came to power, Indian press and political circle are busy discussing the “dangers” of Red Nepal and the issue is being debated during India’s general elections campaign. In Nepal the discussion is picking up too.

Next month India will hold Lok Sabha election. Tarun Vijay at Rediff.com discusses the effect on India‘s large Hindu population of once Hindu Nepal being declared secular under the Maoist leadership. He puts the change and the security threat posed by Pakistan and Bangladesh to India on a same plate.

“And we are increasingly surrounded by a Nepal, once a Hindu nation and now a threat for Hindu survival.

We have a Pakistan and Bangladesh that have bled us continuously for the last three decades of intermittent terror wars — Khalistan, Operation Topac, the jihad in Kashmir and the ignominious forced exodus of Kashmiri Hindus.

We have lost more than 60,000 Indians in terror attacks directly sponsored and encouraged by Pakistan — whether its army or Inter Services Intelligence or the sheepish conspiratorial silence of their leaders, only the naive would make a difference and absolve the culprits.”

Vijay, who is very close to Hindu nationalist party Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) represents a section of Indian media which has been very focused on the religion and culture aspect of Maoist rule in Nepal. In this particular article, he asks the readers to:

“Hence choose those who choose India as their life-force and not just a platform for money making and dying like dirt. The choice is yours to practice in the coming elections.”

From the article it is fairly clear that he wants a new government that will be more proactive on Nepal and be ready to intervene if necessary.

On the Nepali press side, India’s new government’s foreign policy is a big issue. At KantipurOnline, Bhim Prasad Bhurtel discusses India’s growing interest in limiting China’s growing influence in Nepal.

“There is an exaggerated and irrational demonizing of and paranoia about Nepal’s engagement with China in India’s foreign policy establishment. India itself is strengthening its relationship with China. However, why is India so cautious about Nepal’s move to strengthen its relationship with China?”

He also points towards the opportunity India has to have a balanced playing field with China, with Nepal’s help.

“Nepal offers greater opportunities to play China off against India being the hyphen between India and China. The open border and deep cultural and religious ties with Nepal are undeniable, but it is time to rescind such relics as the Indo-Nepalese treaty of 1950 which makes it clear that India has legitimate security interests and it is also determined to protect the same.”

Bhurtel, executive director of the Nepal South Asia Centre, Kathmandu, a South Asian think tank, presents a view echoed by significant number of Nepalese who don’t want India to be suspicious of Nepal’s new relationship with China.

At Telegraph Nepal, N.P. Upadhyaya presents a more combative attitude towards India’s apparent “big brother” attitude towards Nepal. He mentions new extradition treaty between Nepal and India, which the current Indian government is in a hurry to sign could turn into a big foreign policy issue during the election campaign, considering its controversial clause.

“The Extradition Treaty which India wants signed by Nepal government have some clauses and articles which allows the Indian establishment any third country national deportation to India from Nepal whom she considers that his or her continued presence in Nepal may have an impact on her security situation.

Any third country national thus should have to be deported to India by Nepal if India wanted his or her deportation. The Target could well be first the Pakistanis and then the Chinese which may encompass later the Europeans and Americans.”

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