The New Kadampa Tradition (NKT) is not related to the Dalai Lama, either spiritually or politically.

Although the Founder of the NKT, Ven. Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, came from Tibet, the Dalai Lama was never his Teacher. The teachings that Geshe Kelsang presented, and which are followed by NKT practitioners, come from a lineage that includes both Indian Buddhist Teachers such as Atisha, and Tibetan Buddhist Teachers such as Je Tsongkhapa. The teachings, however, are universal and neither Indian nor Tibetan. Furthermore, Geshe Kelsang has never accepted the Dalai Lama’s, or anyone’s, political authority over spiritual matters.

After the Dalai Lama used his political authority to enforce his ban of the ancient religious practice of the Protector Dorje Shugden, which is one of the NKT’s religious practices, NKT practitioners among others protested against this ban and the subsequent oppression of Tibetan practitioners of Dorje Shugden in India, Nepal and elsewhere. However, no NKT Teacher has ever asked their students to reject the Dalai Lama. In denigrating the practice of Dorje Shugden, it is the Dalai Lama who at that time rejected the NKT.  In a Newsweek article, other media, and in talks to Tibetans, he has said “no Shugden practitioner can be my friend”. He did not allow Dorje Shugden practitioners to attend his teachings.

Geshe Kelsang had often said that everyone has choice as to what they believe and practice. However, once someone has chosen a spiritual tradition, he advises them to rely upon this tradition, while continuing always to respect and appreciate other traditions, both Buddhist and non-Buddhist.

See also Has the New Kadampa Tradition split away from the Dalai Lama?