Follow @southasiaanalys

Nepal: Oli Needling India and looks for distractions to Save his Seat.

Paper No.  6607                             Dated 23-June-2020
By Dr. Chandrasekharan
According to one Indian Channel that covers Nepal extensively, Nepal is crossing all redlines to challenge India.  It adds that “Silence” is not a solution.
Latest Reports indicate that Nepal is blocking repair work at the Gandak barrage that is done every year to prevent floods from flowing over the banks and destroy large tracts in Northern Bihar.  The State Government said that any breach in the embankment will cause immense destruction in Bihar.  
On top of this Nepal is also laying claim to the land on the Indian side of the embankment too.
On 21st of this month, the Parliamentary Committee on State Affairs and Good Governance endorsed an amendment bill to the Citizenship Act of 2063 that would require Nepali Women    married to Foreign men  to wait for seven years to get naturalised citizenship. It is targeted towards the people of Indian origin in the Terai.   Rajendra Mahatao, a Parliament member from the RJP said that it is an attack on the sentiment of people living in the border areas where people from both sides naturally have matrimonial relationship.
The issue was in discussion for the last two years in the Parliamentary Committee and all of a sudden the Ruling Party decided to push the bill on the 20th and was soon endorsed in a hurry the next day.
The Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa gave two reasons for this move.  1.  This is done in the interest of national security.  2.  They are following the same rules as in India.  
Both the arguments are fallacious.  That men are more reliable than women in  national security is absurd.  One  Manchala Jha has questioned the basis of the seven-year provision and if it is a question of nationalism what is the guarantee that one becomes a “nationalist” after seven years ? she asked..
As for the same rules in India, the Home Minister knew but did not deliberately say it that it does not apply to citizens of Nepal.
The irony is that the seven-year rule will not apply to Nepali men marrying foreign women. The existing rules are more strict.  According to Article 5-1 of Citizenship Act of Nepal, Foreign women are immediately eligible for citizenship when married to Nepali Men while there is no such provision for a foreign man marrying Nepali Women and will have to wait for fifteen years before being eligible to apply for naturalised citizenship.  Here again there is no guarantee for citizenship either!.
Some women members of the Ruling Party are up in arms.  They have taken exception to the fact that the decision was taken by an “ all male coterie of Rulers.”  The Secretariat has no woman member and  in the Standing Committee of 44 of the Ruling Party only two women are members.
 Protests have already begun and are likely to intensify in the days to come, particularly in the Terai.
Hundreds of Youths led an apolitical and leaderless protest all over the country expressing their dissatisfaction over the government’s inability to handle the Covid-19 pandemic. On 21st over 200 gathered at the Shahid gate in Kathmandu.
The participants said “We are getting news about women being raped at quarantine facilities and that Dalits are being discriminated.  The quarantine facilities have become Virus Hot spots.
Incidence of Virus Infections is increasing steeply and worse is yet to come when the migrant Labour return from abroad.  On the 17th of this month there were 7173 confirmed cases with 20 deaths.  By today, the 23rd, the total has increased to 9561 with 23 deaths.  The curve is rising steeply from the end of May.
Fifty percent of the 75000 Rapid Testing Kits obtained from the notorious Wonderfo Company of Guangzhou of China have been found to be defective.  Yet these kits are being used out of fear of China!
The economy continues to be in a bad shape.  Financial Ministry officials say that tax collection  has been poor.  It needs at least 40 billion Rupees each month for payments and the revenue collection is hardly 15 billion a month.
Agricultural production is bound to suffer due to shortage of fertilizers.  Earlier the farmers used to get the bulk of their needs from across the border by smuggling.  But that channel is closed due to the lock down.  In places like Nawal Parasi which were dependent on migrant Labour from Bihar, is getting none now due to the look-down.  The Government is expected to face a food crisis soon.
With all the internal problems, one would expect Oli to attend to these problems. But he is still looking for ammunition for his nationalist rhetoric to distract the people and cover up his incompetence.  Soon he will have to take a final call before the end of the month on the MCC (Millenium Challenge Corporations of USA) grant offered by USA. A few days ealier, his own party leaders had discussed about this with their Chinese Counterparts. Even his own party is divided!