Home Contact Us  

India & the World - Articles

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
#5407, 11 December 2017
Nepal Elections: Reading the Results
Pramod Jaiswal
Visiting Research Fellow, IReS, IPCS

The Left Alliance made a clean sweep in Nepal's recently held provincial and federal elections. It is speculated that the Chairman of Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML), KP Sharmal Oli, would lead the government and the Chairman of the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist Center (CPN-MC), Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’, would be the chairman of the new Nepal Communist Party, formed after the merger of CPN-UML and CPN-MC. The election results also show that six out of the seven provinces would have a leftist government. 

What were the reasons for the rise of the left in Nepal? What would the future political course in Nepal be? How will the new government deal with its two neighbours, India and China? 

Rise of the Left
The chances of forming the government was nearly certain when the two biggest left parties - the CPN-UML and the CPN-MC - announced the formation of an alliance ahead of provincial and federal elections. Both parties were the second and third largest force in the parliament respectively. They also announced that they would work for their formal merger after the election.

There are numerous reasons for the left alliance's thumping victory. Foremost of them was the agenda of development and political stability. In the last ten years, Nepal has had ten prime ministers. Due to lack of political stability, Nepal failed to experience development. Hence, it was most appealing to the people. The people were more convinced as they came with a common manifesto and had already announced the merger both parties after election. 

The second factor was the image of KP Sharma Oli as the ‘nationalist’ leader among the hill voters. Third, there was precise calculation in candidate allocation and election management. The leaders continued rigorous election campaign in spite of their health issues and personal tragedies. Similarly, the Nepali Congress's lack of leadership and clear agenda also helped the left. The Nepali Congress's duality during the ‘unofficial blockade’ failed to impress both hill and Madhesi voters. While hill voters accused them of not speaking against "a hidden Indian hand" during the blockade, the Madhesi accused them of not standing with them. Moreover, incumbent Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba failed to deliver during his tenure and was mired in several controversies which made him quite unpopular. 

Challenges to the Left 
There are three major challenges for the left alliance: The first and most immediate challenge would be of dealing with the power sharing. The CPN-UML and the CPN-MC had shared seats in a ratio of 60:40  for the polls. Hence, both parties would claim share in the same proportion while forming the government and the new party after the merger. Though Oli and Prachanda would be able to deal with power sharing in the government, it is yet to see how they would meet the challenges of the unification of the parties, because apart from ideological differences - which is prime among the left parties - they would have to resist tremendous pressure during the management of leaders and cadres from their parties. 

The second major challenge to the left would be managing the neighbours. It is an open secret that KP Sharma Oli and India do not enjoy good relations. The relations between the two countries were at their lowest during his tenure as the prime minister. Oli signed several agreements with China to challenge India’s predominant position in Nepal. India sees him as ‘anti-India’ and ‘pro-China’, and suspects a Chinese ploy behind the left alliance. Hence, it would be a herculean task for the Oli government to convince and bring India into its favour. 

On the other hand, it is expected that relations between Nepal and China would meet new heights. Chinese President Xi Jinping might visit Kathmandu within a few months and announce several projects under Beijing's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Railway connectivity between China and Nepal would be significant.

The third major challenge would be addressing the grievances of its long-marginalised communities, which, if left unaddressed, could lead to renewed conflicts. Some of the demands of marginalised groups in the Terai region, including Madhesis and Tharus, are still unaddressed. The Madhesi parties also performed well in the elections. The Nepali Congress and Madhesi parties would form a strong opposition. Failure to manage the opposition will affect delivery on the left government's part. Moreover, it is rather alarming that not a single voter turned up for polling at Mahadeva Village, Saptari, owing to CK Raut’s call. CK Raut is Madhesi secession activist who was later arrested for carrying out anti-election activities and calling people to boycott voting.

The Way Forward
Though the CPN-UML has emerged as the largest political party, it is highly unlikely that it might grab a simple majority to form the government. Hence, the alliance of the CPN-UML and the CPN-MC is inevitable. 

However, even after the merger, the left parties might not get two-third majority, which would mean theycannot fiddle with the constitution. They would require the help of the Madhesis or the Nepali Congress to make any amendments to the constitution. Thus, there will be checks and balances. 

Most probably, India and Oli might improve their relations as it will be mutually beneficial. On the other hand, India should stop betting on the old horse as the Nepali Congress lacks proper leadership at the moment. It should improve its relations with all the political parties and cultivate them to serve its national interest, rather than favouring one party. Oli would fail to deliver on the promise of a stable government and development if he fails to balance both its neighbours. If India fails to cultivate good relations with the left, it might lose its geopolitical advantages in Nepal and is bound to adopt a defensive approach vis-à-vis with China.

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
IPCS Columnists
Af-Pak Diary
D Suba Chandran
Resetting Kabul-Islamabad Relations: Three Key Issues
Can Pakistan Reset its Relations with Afghanistan?
The New Afghanistan: Four Major Challenges for President Ghani
Big Picture
Prof Varun Sahni
Understanding Democracy and Diversity in J&K
When Xi Met Modi: Juxtaposing China and India
Pakistan?s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: The Inevitability of Instability

Dateline Colombo

Asanga Abeyagoonasekera.
Sri Lanka: Moving Towards a Higher Collective Outcome
The Importance of Electing the Best to our Nation's Parliament
Sri Lanka: Toward a Diaspora Re-Engagement Plan
Dateline Islamabad
Salma Malik
Pakistan's Hurt Locker: What Next?
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
India-Pakistan Relations in 2015: Through a Looking Glass
Dhaka Discourse
Prof Delwar Hossain
IPCS Forecast: Bangladesh in 2015
18th SAARC Summit: A Perspective from Bangladesh
Bangladesh in Global Forums: Diplomacy vs. Domestic Politics
Eagle Eye
Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
India-US: Significance of the Second Modi-Obama Meet
Has President Obama Turned Lame Duck?
Modi-Obama Summit: Criticism for Criticism?s Sake?

East Asia Compass
Dr Sandip Mishra
India-Japan-US Trilateral: India?s Policy for the Indo-Pacific
China-South Korea Ties: Implications for the US Pivot to Asia
Many ?Pivots to Asia?: What Does It Mean For Regional Stability?
Himalayan Frontier
Pramod Jaiswal
Nepal?s New Constitution: Instrument towards Peace or Catalyst to Conflict?
IPCS Forecast: Nepal in 2015
Constitution-making: Will Nepal Miss its Second Deadline?

Prof Shankari Sundararaman
IPCS Forecast: Southeast Asia in 2015
Indonesia's Pacific Identity: What Jakarta Must Do in West Papua
Modi in Myanmar: From ?Look East? to ?Act East?
Sushant Sareen
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
Islamic State: Prospects in Pakistan
Pakistan: The Futility of Internationalising Kashmir

Looking East
Wasbir Hussain
Myanmar in New Delhi's Naga Riddle
China: ?Peaceful? Display of Military Might
Naga Peace Accord: Need to Reserve Euphoria
Maritime Matters
Vijay Sakhuja
Indian Ocean: Modi on a Maritime Pilgrimage
Indian Ocean: Exploring Maritime Domain Awareness
IPCS Forecast: The Indian Ocean in 2015

Nuke Street
Amb Sheelkant Sharma
US-Russia and Global Nuclear Security: Under a Frosty Spell?
India's Nuclear Capable Cruise Missile: The Nirbhay Test
India-Australia Nuclear Agreement: Bespeaking of a New Age
Red Affairs
Bibhu Prasad
Countering Left Wing Extremism: Failures within Successes
Return of the Native: CPI-Maoist in Kerala
The Rising Civilian Costs of the State-Vs-Extremists Conflict

Regional Economy
Amita Batra
India and the APEC
IPCS Forecast: South Asian Regional Integration
South Asia: Rupee Regionalisation and Intra-regional Trade Enhancement
South Asian Dialectic
PR Chari
Resuming the Indo-Pak Dialogue: Evolving a New Focus
Defence Management in India: An Agenda for Parrikar
Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan: Implications for Asian Security

Spotlight West Asia
Amb Ranjit Gupta
Prime Minister Modi Finally Begins His Interaction with West Asia*
A Potential Indian Role in West Asia?
US-GCC Summit: More Hype than Substance
Strategic Space
Manpreet Sethi
India-Russia Nuclear Vision Statement: See that it Delivers
Global Nuclear Disarmament: The Humanitarian Consequences Route
Nasr: Dangers of Pakistan's Short Range Ballistic Missile

The Strategist
Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
Jihadi Aggression and Nuclear Deterrence
The Blight of Ambiguity
Falun Gong: The Fear Within

OTHER REGULAR contributors
Gurmeet Kanwal
Harun ur Rashid
N Manoharan
Wasbir Hussain
Rana Banerji
N Manoharan

Ruhee Neog
Teshu Singh
Aparupa Bhattacherjee
Roomana Hukil
Aparupa Bhattacherjee


Browse by Publications

Issue Briefs 
Special Reports 
Research Papers 
Seminar Reports 
Conference Reports 

Browse by Region/Countries

East Asia 
South Asia 
Southeast Asia 
US & South Asia 

Browse by Issues

India & the world  
Naxalite Violence 
Suicide Terrorism 
Peace & Conflict Database 
Article by same Author
India-Nepal Relations: Mixed Fortunes

Seizing ‚ÄėThe Belt and Road‚Äô Opportunity: Challenges for Nepal

Local Elections in Nepal: Is the Second Phase Possible?

Forecast 2017: Nepal

Nepal: Local Body Elections Amid Uncertainty

FSI and Nepal

Contextualising KP Oliís India and China Visits

Significance of Prime Minister KP Oli's New Delhi Visit

Forecast 2016: Nepal

Nepalís Constitutional Questions and Madhesi Aspirations

Madhesi Demands in Nepal: Is there an End in Sight?

Nepalís New Constitution: Instrument towards Peace or Catalyst to Conflict?

Nepal: Political Rivalries Stymieing Constitution-making

IPCS Forecast: Nepal in 2015

Constitution-making: Will Nepal Miss its Second Deadline?

The Future of SAARC is Now

China in Nepal: Increasing Connectivity Via Railways

India-Nepal Hydroelectricity Deal: Making it Count

Federalism and Nepal: Internal Differences

Modi and Nepal-India Relations

Nepal: Challenges to Constitution-Making

Nepal's Restful Prime Minister

Chinese Inroads to Nepal

Constituent Assembly-II: Rifts Emerging

Nepal: The Crisis over Proportional Representation and the RPP Divide

Y! MyWeb
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2018
 2017  2016  2015  2014  2013  2012  2011  2010
 2009  2008  2007  2006  2005  2004  2003  2002
 2001  2000  1999  1998  1997

The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) is the premier South Asian think tank which conducts independent research on and provides an in depth analysis of conventional and non-conventional issues related to national and South Asian security including nuclear issues, disarmament, non-proliferation, weapons of mass destruction, the war on terrorism, counter terrorism , strategies security sector reforms, and armed conflict and peace processes in the region.

For those in South Asia and elsewhere, the IPCS website provides a comprehensive analysis of the happenings within India with a special focus on Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalite Violence. Our research promotes greater understanding of India's foreign policy especially India-China relations, India's relations with SAARC countries and South East Asia.

Through close interaction with leading strategic thinkers, former members of the Indian Administrative Service, the Foreign Service and the three wings of the Armed Forces - the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, - the academic community as well as the media, the IPCS has contributed considerably to the strategic discourse in India.

Subscribe to Newswire | Site Map
18, Link Road, Jungpura Extension, New Delhi 110014, INDIA.

Tel: 91-11-4100-1902    Email: officemail@ipcs.org

© Copyright 2018, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.