The Livemint, a well read Indian media, writes its headline: Historic Nepal elections significant for India, amid China’s overtures. Similar headlines are other in leading Indian media as well.
India.com writes this election is also closely monitored by India and Nepal’s giant neighbor China.
However, Chinese media coverage is as usual quite. Xinhua news agency just reported just a cursory review of elections just as news.
According to a report in Livemint, Indian media, India hopes the Nepal elections will bring a credible result and a stable government with which it can deepen ties, against the backdrop of China’s growing inroads in the Himalayan nation.
“Nepal went to polls on Sunday in the first round of a two-phase election under the provisions of a new 2015 constitution that India hopes will bring a credible result and a stable government with which it can deepen ties, against the backdrop of China’s growing inroads in the Himalayan nation reported from New Delhi.“The Nepal elections—following polling for 753 local bodies held earlier this year after a two-decade gap—have been deemed historic, seen as the final step in Nepal’s transition to a federal democracy after the end of a decade-long civil war in 2006 that claimed more than 16,000 lives,” writes Elizabeth Roche on her article.
Given the nature of constitution and electoral law, it is impossible to see stable government in Nepal anytime soon. After the elections, the situation will likely be more fragile and unstable from center to provinces with all hung parliament.
She writes, the primary face-off in the Nepal elections is between the Nepali Congress (NC) led by Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and a new Left alliance comprising the Communist Party of Nepal (UML) led by former prime minister K.P. Sharma Oli and Maoists led by Pushpa Kamal Dahal—popularly known by his nom de guerre Prachanda.
A handful of political parties —the Madhesi groups, representing the Terai region—are contesting the polls with the understanding that they will join forces with the NC later, say news reports out of Nepal.
Some 3.2 million people out of an estimated 15 million eligible voters cast their ballot on Sunday, according to the Nepalese election commission website. Nepal’s chief election commissioner, Ayodhi Prasad Yadav, said Sunday’s turnout was around 65%, PTI reported. A second round of voting will be held on 7 December with Nepal election results expected later next month.
Up for grabs this time is 275 parliamentary seats. Voters will also be choosing representatives to seven provincial assemblies for the first time. The winners will then elect an upper house of parliament as well as the new president of Nepal.
The polls are significant for India.
“India would like to see a government in Kathmandu that is empathetic to its interests,” said retired Commodore C.U. Bhaskar, director at the Society for Policy Studies.
“Empathy is the critical factor here,” Bhaskar said, pointing to the fact that Nepalese political parties in the past had pitted India against China. “Over the past decade, China has become a major factor in Nepal,” he added.
In recent years, China has taken up a number of infrastructure projects in Nepal and unveiled plans to build a rail link through the Himalayas. Two major hydel power projects in Nepal, the West Seti and Buodhi Gandaki, were awarded to Chinese companies though the latter was cancelled by the Deuba government earlier this month. Earlier this year, Chinese defence minister Chang Wanquan visited Nepal, the first ever by a Chinese defence minister to the country.
According to former Indian foreign secretary Kanwal Sibal, “China seems to have played a major role behind the scenes in uniting the Leftist groups in Nepal and bringing them together. The aim is to ensure that the Nepalese government does not give India prime importance but adopt a non-aligned approach,” he said.
Similarly, Indian media uniindia.com see the elections are keenly watched by Nepal's giant neighbours -- China and India.
As the two countries vie for influence in the Himalayan nation, it will be a challenge for the new government to address the aspirations of Beijing and Delhi while maintaining Nepal's identity.
Leading newspapers Indian Express, The Times of India and The Hindustan Times also covered Nepal’s elections as a way to reduce the Chinese influences in Nepal.