The primary reason for the rising border tensions between India and Nepal is the Nationalist Politics, followed by Nepal’s PM KP Oli. The Border dispute is complicated because of the underlying reasons before the debate that traces back to the Treaty of Sugauli.
A series of changes took place to the boundary between India and Nepal between 1816 to 1947. Finally, Nepal acknowledged that Kalapani falls under Indian territory. And that is why India inherited this boundary in 1947. After became independent, both the countries began a special relationship that was driven by their mutual consent. And after the annexation of Tibet by China in 1950.
Traditional Relations Between India and Nepal
All the Himalayan states, including India, Nepal, and Sikkim, which was independent back then, were concerned about China’s expansionist policies. And this pushed the small country like Nepal to adopt a close defensive strategic relationship with India. India and Nepal signed the historic treaty of Peace and Friendship, at the request of Nepal in 1950. The agreement provided for the system of open borders and free movement of people. This treaty recognized the Historical and Cultural relationship between the two countries.
Also, the increasing military threat from China pushed Nepal closer to India. And Nepal allowed India to establish border posts along the Nepal-China border. Traditionally, both countries shared close and cordial relations. Even though the border dispute at Kalapani emerged between two counties, it was never a load to affect the bilateral relations between the countries.
India’s Involvement in Nepal
Over the years, India’s standing in Nepal is slowly eroded. And both the counties should be blamed for this. India’s involvement in the internal matters of Nepal has attracted a lot of criticisms. India’s role in Nepal’s Civil war is seen with suspicion.
It is also believed that Nepal’s transformation from Monarchy to Democracy is also insisted on by India. India also tried to protect the rights of Madhesis at the time of the drafting of the Nepali Constitution. Madhesis have a close cultural connection with Nepal, UP, and Bihar. It also resulted in the formation of Anti-Indian sentiments in the Nepali people.
Nationalist Politics Of KP Oli
On the one hand, India failed to tackle the Anti-Indian sentiments in Nepali people. On the other hand, Nepali Politicians who projected themselves as Nationalists, they exploited these anti-India sentiments to raise themselves t to the position of power. In the backdrop of these anti-India sentiments, KP Oli rose to power and became PM of Nepal in 2017. He projected himself as the Nepali nationalist and have the courage to stand against powerful neighbors like India.
KP Oli might have the desire to cultivate closer relations with China to project himself as a strong leader who can stand up against India. Despite this, the ties between India and Nepal were good for the last two years. But the sudden emergence of the border dispute in 2020 and the strong statements of KP Oli against India can be traced to his tweaking political position in Nepal. The Constitution of Nepal provides a secure tenure of Prime Minister for two years, which is over now.