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Indian polls, provincial politics, and more

Indian polls, provincial politics, and more

Dear Readers,

Greetings from Kathmandu!

This week, Nepal’s media focused on the Indian Lok Sabha elections and their regional implications. Following Narendra Modi’s historic re-election as India’s Prime Minister for a third term, ApEx published two analytical pieces. The first covered the election outcomes and Nepal-India relations, while the second examined the challenges Modi might face with his neighborhood policy during his third term. The diplomatic and strategy communities in Kathmandu are still analyzing these developments, but India’s policy toward Nepal is expected to see both continuity and change. There are also rumors that Modi may soon visit Nepal.

Another major story this week involved the arrest of two Nepali nationals by Tibetan officials in Gorkha. Neither the Nepali nor Chinese governments have provided information on the matter. Some media outlets suggested the arrests were related to support for Tibetan refugees fleeing Nepal, but this has not been independently verified. We have called on the government to address this issue immediately.

President Ram Chandra Poudel is currently touring Switzerland and Germany. In Switzerland, he delivered a keynote address at the high-level event of the Forum of Global Coalition for Social Justice in Geneva.  Additionally, Bangladesh’s Cabinet Committee on Government Purchase approved a proposal to import 40 MW of electricity from Nepal, with India agreeing to facilitate the sale.

On the domestic front, Home Minister Rabi Lamichhane remains in the spotlight due to allegations of embezzling cooperative funds. The Supreme Court is currently reviewing a case to dismiss Lamichhane, and all eyes are on the court as it demands evidence regarding his involvement. Lamichhane, who was outspoken just a few weeks ago, is now cautious in his public statements.

Temperatures across Nepal continue to rise, affecting daily life. Some schools have closed to protect students from heat waves. But with the arrival of monsoon three days ahead of schedule, meteorologists expect cooler conditions in the days to come.

Gandaki Province Chief Minister Surendra Pandey from the Nepali Congress secured a vote of confidence after lawmaker Phanindra Devkota defied his party’s orders and supported Pandey. The Supreme Court is also hearing cases related to government formation in Koshi Province. In the Sudurpaschim Province, intra-party disputes within the Maoist party are disrupting the government’s functioning. Overall, provincial governments are nearly defunct, with the Supreme Court holding significant power over their formation and dismissal. It is clear that provincial governments are even more unstable than the federal government.

The controversy over Giri Bandhu Tea Estate continues to make headlines. The Nepali Congress and other parties are criticizing CPN-UML Chair KP Sharma Oli, whose government in 2021 amended the Land Act enabling the tea estate to exchange around 280 bighas of land, situated at prime location in Birtamod, Jhapa. Oli has defended the controversial amendment that has been overturned by the Supreme Court. This week, the UML chair also defended his 2020 decision to dissolve the parliament, stating that there was nothing unconstitutional or undemocratic about seeking a fresh mandate when the leaders from within the governing party were refusing to work in favor of the people.   

The Janata Samajbadi Party led by Upendra Yadav held its first-ever general convention but failed to elect office-bearers due to internal controversies. Recently, Yadav’s party split, with seven members forming a separate party. Yadav has sought the court’s intervention to deem the split illegitimate. Meanwhile, the main opposition CPN-UML is holding district conventions, having completed them in more than 64 districts. This week, Oli stated that his decision to dissolve the parliament in 2020 was to protect the UML.

If you want to publish your stories, articles and columns, or offer feedback and suggestions, mail me @[email protected] or [email protected]. I have started this informal and conversational-style column to provide your updates on national and international events. Happy weekend! 

Kamal Dev Bhattarai 

Editor, The Annapurna Express