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Nepal Goes Polls on November 20, India and China Keenly Watch

by | Nov 4, 2022 | South Asia

India, on November 1, gifted 200 vehicles to Nepal , for their use during the upcoming elections

A high pitch election campaign continues across Nepal as the country goes to polls on November 20.

Indian and Chinese embassies in Nepal are keenly observing the trends of the polls, say observers, as China would love to see Nepal included in Road and belt initiative and at the same time India would like to see Nepal more inclined towards Indo-Pacific strategy, even though Nepal has no coastal borders.

India, on November 1, gifted 200 vehicles to Nepal , for their use during the upcoming elections. Indian Ambassador to Nepal, Naveen Srivastava, on behalf of the Government of India, handed over 200 vehicles to Finance Minister Janardan Sharma as a gift of India for logistical support to various Nepali institutions for the conduct of elections.

In addition, the Indian Government has permitted duty-free exports of six lakh tonnes of paddy to Nepal, which is seen as helping the Himalayan nation meet its food security. The Ministry of Finance said the quantity permitted would be from the date of notification -October 31, 2022.

The move is seen as an Indian gesture to support the Nepali people ahead of the elections. The polls in Nepal are taking place at a juncture when inflation is relatively high and foreign deposits are pretty low. It has already led to rising food and energy prices.

Nepal’s annual retail inflation is around 10 per cent, and the foreign exchange reserves have declined to nearly $9bn, sufficient to cover imports for about six months, from about $12bn a year earlier, according to the latest central bank data.

Sher Bahadur Deuba’s Nepali Congress won slightly more assemblies than the UML party in the municipal bodies election in May.

Managing relations with its two neighbours, India and China, will also be a critical task for the Nepal’s next elected Government.

Nepal, having a population of 29 million people, will elect 275-member House of Representatives – 165 seats on a first-past-the-post basis and the rest through proportional representation.

Prime Minister Deuba has held power since July last year, supported by an alliance of communists, including former Maoist rebels and the centrist Nepali Congress party.

Former Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli’s Communist UML party, which is considered closer to Beijing, is the main opposition.

There have been ten government changes in Nepal since monarchy rule got over in 2008. Deuba, 76, has been prime minister five times,

But locals say they are tired of so many changes in fourteen years of democracy and are looking forward to a stable government with young leaders.

Surinder Singh Oberoi
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