Kathmandu, Nepal, July 15, 2019: Indian embassy’s letter sent to the Nepal government to relax its decision to carry out stringent pesticide residue tests on fresh vegetables and fruits imported from south of the border has sparked controversies within the government and its head Nepal Communist Party (NCP).
The controversies surrounded in and around the party and the government would sweep up foreign affair job of those ‘who kept into dark the Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli over the letter.’ The issue has also dragged into controversies even to the ministers and high ranking officials of the ministries of commerce and agriculture.
It is likely that Prime Minister Oli would take come concrete decision even for face-saving purpose for his contradictory public statements. Earlier he had said that the government did not receive such a letter from nowhere and lately corrected the statement once the letter exposed stating that he was not informed about the letter.
During the Parliamentary Party meeting, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli had professed ignorance about the letter when lawmakers of his party categorically asked about a letter from the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu.
Suspecting of the letter, the NCP lawmakers had demanded answer for the reason that the government backtracked from its decision to conduct pesticide tests on imported the imported fruits and vegetables from India.
When the copies of the letter were making the rounds on social media in the following day, all those from the prime minister’s circle downplayed the incidents and instead blamed the media too.
As Minister for Agriculture and Livestock Development, Chakra Pani Khanal, made a public statement that he had informed the Prime Minister Oli about the letter even after he apologized for the statements of receiving letter from the Indian embassy, it is likely that the issue would spark even factional war within the party. Khanal represents the erstwhile CPN (Maoist Center)
According to the insider of the party, Prime Minister had made a mindset to take action against of the minister for foreign affairs Pradip Kumar Gyanwali and his foreign affair advisor Rajan Bhattrai on the alleged charge of keeping him dark about the letter.
However, the revelation of Agriculture and Livestock Development minister Khanal has compelled him to backtrack from the decision. It is said that Prime Minister Oli has reached on the conclusion not take any decision over the issue unless the party reach on the conclusion to reshuffle the cabinet.
As the Ministry of Foreign Affairs including Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali has not made any public statement about the letter till the date, Prime Minister Oli seems discontent with Gyawali even though he is one of the close confident of Oli.
This was not the first time that Prime Minister Oli admitted to having been misled, deceived or kept in the dark even though he heads a government-backed by a two-thirds majority in Parliament. His remarks are considered as a serious setback for the most stable government the country has had in decades.
The insiders of the government head NCP claims that Prime Minister Oli is convinced to relocate Foreign Minister Gyawali with another ministerial portfolio and same fate would be replicated even for the foreign affair adviser Bhattrai.
Not responding to the US Embassy in Kathmandu over the statement issued by the NCP Co-chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal siding with the embattled regime of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and denouncing the United States for its ‘interference’ is taken as of an undiplomatic characteristics of the Foreign Minister Gyawali.
Following the statement of Dahal, the US Embassy in Kathmandu had asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stating that whether Dahal’s statement reflected Nepal’s official position regarding Venezuela but the Ministry did not respond to the US Embassy on the matter. The incident was taken as the first fault in the functioning of the country’s diplomatic apparatus under the Oli administration.
Likewise, the Foreign Ministry also did not reply even to the US Embassy over the issue that an American citizen was refused entry into Nepal suspecting him of being an agent of the Dalai Lama.
Last month, The US Embassy in Kathmandu had asked for clarification from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs after immigration officials, coming under pressure from the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu, had deported the wrong man with the same name.
Similarly, Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also not replied to the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu over Indian nationals requiring mandatory labor permits in Nepal. The Indian ambassador had dispatched a diplomatic note to the foreign minister seeking clarification about two weeks ago.
As the blame game continues within the Oli administration over the issue of Indian embassy letter, the Foreign Ministry had to respond promptly to the Indian Embassy regarding the pesticide tests receiving responses from the line ministries- commerce and agriculture.
These incidents have been taken as of the indicative of a broken and lackluster approach to handling diplomatic affairs by the Foreign Ministry.