8 July 2020 I The sheer access Nepalese leaders readily grant to New Delhi’s secret intelligence operatives becomes apparent from a news article published by an Indian news website.
The report by The Pioneer has revealed New Delhi’s most crafty intelligence agents are currently “camping in Kathmandu” in a desperate bid to win back game-changing former prime ministers and parliamentarians from what they view as a growing Chinese political clout in the former Hindu kingdom.
RAW’s chief Samant Kumar Goel and Intelligence Bureau chief Arvind Kumar are leading the hasty negotiations with the former prime ministers of Nepal as well as with other powerful leaders in Kathmandu, the website claimed in its report today.
Quoting unidentified sources, The Pioneer reports that the talks by the bosses of the Indian intelligence agencies are being directly monitored by India’s National Security Adviser Ajit Doval – an indication of the level of importance Modi government attaches to countering “Chinese influence” in Nepal.
“Talks have so far been held with Nepal Communist Party leaders Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda, Madhav Kumar Nepal, Jhalanath Khanal, Narayan Kaji Shrestha and Keshav Prasad Badal among others. The officials also talked to Barsaman Pun, Shankar Pokharel (considered close to Oli) and Dr Rajan Bhattarai (Oli’s advisor on foreign affairs),” the media report reads.
Bikram Timilsina, PhD Scholar at the Griffith Asia Institute and School of Government and International Relations at Griffith University, says Indian intelligence agency’s propensity to interfere into Nepal’s internal affairs such as this is the main obstacle for reforming and enhancing India-Nepal relations.
“This level of engagement, if true, at such a critical juncture in Nepal’s internal politics, is not normal. While India’s involvement in Nepal’s domestic affairs is not unprecedented, it is however worrisome since India’s tendency of seeking special role in such circumstances is what has produced much talked-about anti-India sentiment in Nepal. It does not help to enhance the deteriorated bilateral relations since it marks continuation of New Delhi’s policy of micromanaging Nepal,” Mr Timilsina rued.
Mr Timilsina points out that there is a great deal of voice in the Indian media, mainly from the experts with a conservative line, that India should topple Oli government. “This activism of Indian intelligence in Kathmandu, if true, appears to have been orchestrated for the same purpose. If that is the case, it will spike the anti-India sentiment further that India has always been worried about,” the Brisbane resident warned, “It means India’s attempt of ousting Oli can come counter-productive again by intensifying anti-India sentiment among Nepalese people and further dividing Nepal’s political forces into pro-India and anti-India.”
The international relations expert maintains New Delhi should rather work on improving its relationship with Mr Oli and reform the foundation of bilateral relations on the basis of the recommendations of earlier EPG report should India want to elevate the bilateral relations between the two neighbours.
The Nepalese expert, at the same time, is urging Mr Oli to change his attitude towards India. He was referring to the prime minister’s recent comments about India that were not appreciated by diplomatic-minded Nepalese intelligentsia.
The Indian engagement comes in the wake of heightened parleys between Chinese ambassador Hou Yanqi.
The Pioneer further reveals that the covert operatives of the Indian intelligence services also held talks with President of Nepali Congress Sher Bahadur Deuba and his colleagues Dr Minendra Rijal, Vimlendra Nidhi and Krishna Sitaula as well as Mahant Thakur, Upendra Yadav and Dr Baburam Bhattarai.