The January 22 constitution deadline set by the parties represented in the 2nd constituent assembly after it was elected last year is less than a month away. As the deadline draws closer the international attention that Nepal has been drawing over its new statute has also increased.
There have been a flurry of visits by different level delegations from the northern neighbour China. And there have been intense speculations about a visit by the Chinese president Xi Jinping next year to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between the two countries.
The visit, if it takes place, is likely after Xi plays host to the regional rival and Nepal's southern neighbour India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi who will be paying a return visit to the Dragon Land less than a year after he played host to the Chinese strongman. Whether the Xi-Modi summit in Beijing will cover the volatile political developments in a country sandwiched between the two is not clear yet.
At a time, when the western powers have shown so active interest in the domestic affairs (most glaring example being the controversial statement on right to conversion by the British ambassador) of the two Asian biggies' common neighbour, it is unlikely that Nepal will not find mention in their summit level talks.
But that event will take place a few months after Nepal's constitution deadline.
Whether the Nepali leaders will be able to meet the deadline is not certain yet, although there have been clear indications to the contrary. Whether they bring out the new statute by that time or not may not be certain, but what is certain is that the Nepali politics will not be the same post-January 22. Constitution or not, new alignments, alliances, government changes, chaos, instability, street agitations are bound to follow.
How will Nepal cope with the new challenges and come out of them will surely of interest and concern of both India and China. Since instability and disorder here would have their spill over effects on both neighbours they will only naturally be keeping a close watch on the Nepal developments. As the western nations have reportedly been active in taking sides and promoting the sides they have taken especially on ethnic and religious issues, Nepal's immediate neighbours may find reasons to ensure that what they see as their vital interests are not threatened.
While the western powers are wary of the superpower-in-the-making China hence they will also not be comfortable with the idea of another power that would cut on their global influence. That the emergence of the Hindu-right under the RSS pracharak-turned Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Modi, despite being market-friendly, has not gone well with the Christian west is not secret.
The British ambassador Sparkes' controversial statement on asking the Nepali lawmakers to ensure the right to conversion in the new constitution has reportedly left the European community divided, but that it has come after the lobbying to get Nepal revert to a Hindu nation intensified is meaningful.Media reports say that such lobbying are not without the backing from across the southern border.
How will the internal actors of Nepal respond to the external factors while formulating the country's new constitution will be keenly watched in the times to come. Will they be able to rise to the occasion and steer the nation clear of the turbulent waters or become hostage to the extraneous games leaving Nepal in a no-win situation?