Oli visit to deepen tiesPrime Minister KP Sharma Oli embarks on a three-day state visit to India on April 6. Kathmandu and New Delhi on Friday officially announced the visit, first reported by the Post last week.
Published at : March 31, 2018
Updated at : March 31, 2018 21:47
Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli embarks on a three-day state visit to India on April 6. Kathmandu and New Delhi on Friday officially announced the visit, first reported by the Post last week.
His visit aims to restore mutual trust, deepen economic ties while signing new agreements with India.
Top officials told the Post, the two sides have had talks about a fresh project or a major economic assistance Delhi is likely to announce during PM Oli’s visit.
“It is in the pipeline. We are in touch with Indian officials,” said the official with knowledge about the state visit. Oli’s this visit would focus on major gains, business deals and fruitful outcome, he said.
Oli’s visit to India in 2016 failed to release a joint statement because of issues of interpretation of Nepal’s constitution. Officials of both countries are preparing for a joint statement this time.
From Sunday, Oli will begin talks with Nepal members of the Eminent Persons’ Group on Nepal-India relations and former foreign ministers. The discussions would set the agenda for the PM’s visit and seek suggestions for topics during his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other top officials in New Delhi.
Political issues will merely figure in high-level meetings in Delhi as the Madhes issue has faded after results of the three-tier elections.
The perception in Kathmandu and New Delhi is that this state visit will focus on economic development and co-operation, officials here said. As Oli emerges as a powerful PM and probable chairman of a unified communist party, there seems to be a greater degree of eagerness in New Delhi to mend its ties with Oli, who shared “acrimonious” relations with India after promulgation of Nepal’s new constitution in September 2015 and the subsequent blockade at the Nepal-India border.
Relations between the two countries dipped after Oli accused New Delhi of plotting the fall of his government in 2016 and elevating CPN (Maoist Centre) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal to the post of prime minister.
During discussions with visiting Nepali journalists recently, Indian officials, journalists and experts hinted their country wanted to revisit its ties with Nepal for three reasons.
One, under pressure from a united opposition, and his critics within the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), PM Modi faces many political challenges ahead of the Lower House elections in 2019. Modi is keen to amplify the message to citizens that India’s bonhomie with key ally Nepal is back on track.
The United Progressive Alliance (UPA), the coalition of opposition parties led by the Indian National Congress and media analysts have recently relentlessly attacked Modi for his failure to deliver promises to people, multi billion bank scams and stuttering foreign relations that soured relations with its immediate neighbours, including Nepal over the last three years.
For these compulsions, and to please his constituencies, Modi wants favourable ties with Nepal and seeks to send across a message that India’s ties with Nepal are “trouble-free”.
Second, according to Indian experts, the sudden but powerful rise of Oli in Nepali politics, his working style and his posture as a powerful leader at the Centre hold the promise of a stable government for at least another five years. As Oli emerges an all-powerful leader in Nepal’s recent history, a power such as India cannot afford to dilly-dally. India has no choice but to engage Oli said an Indian political analyst who follows Nepal issues from Delhi.
The third factor is China. The pacts Oli signed with China during his last tenure had Delhi on tenterhook. “This time too, we are keenly watching whether he would reach out to Beijing for a similar favour,” said another expert.
A statement issued by India’s Ministry of External Affairs said the visit would provide an opportunity for both sides to “review wide-ranging co-operative partnership, and to progress it further for the benefit of the two countries”.
“The visit is focused on realising our goal of prosperous and developed Nepal. The visit aims to deepen economic ties with India,” said Rajan Bhattarai, a close aide to Oli.
The prime minister’s spouse Radhika Shakya, ministers, MPs secretaries and high-ranking officials are part of the delegation.
Oli will hold meetings with India’s President Ram Nath Kovind and Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu, among others. Oli will hold official talks with Modi and exchange views on matters of mutual interest. Some senior cabinet members of the government of India will also call on Oli.
Oli will also visit Pantnagar, Uttarakhand, to attend a programme at the Govind Ballabh Pant University of Agriculture and Technology.