Former prime minister Bhattarai to visit New DelhiBhattarai will seek medical treatment in the city but leaders close to him say he might have political meetings as well.
Former prime minister and senior leader of the Janata Samajbadi Party Baburam Bhattarai is leaving for New Delhi on a weeklong visit on Sunday. Though Bhattarai is visiting India for medical treatment, sources say he will hold meetings with some Indian politicians and officials during his stay.
Bhattarai’s visit comes at a time when Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has dissolved the House of Representatives, declared the snap polls for April 30 and May 10 and the Supreme Court is all set to deliver its verdict on the constitutionality of Oli’s move within a week.
Oli’s move has also divided the major political parties.
Ahead of his visit, Bhattarai’s Secretariat has informed the Nepali Embassy in New Delhi that he will stay at the embassy for one or two days but the rest of his itinerary is unknown, said a senior official at the embassy.
“We do not know whom he is meeting but the primary reason for his visit is health,” the official at the embassy said.
Janata Samajbadi Party Chairman Upendra Yadav confirmed that Bhattarai is visiting New Delhi for treatment so there is no politics attached to his visit.
“His visit is purely for health reasons,” Yadav told the Post. Bhattarai, who recently recovered from Covid-19, has been complaining of a problem in his stomach.
Earlier this month, Janata Samajbadi Party leader Mahantha Thakur also visited New Delhi and met some officials there but his visit was kept a secret. Thakur was in Delhi for the treatment of his heart and knee, a party leader said. He also met some officials there but there was no reason to make it public, according to the leader.
Bhattarai’s visit may be similar, the Janata Samajbadi party leader said. “I don’t think Bhattarai has any message to deliver to New Delhi at this point of time.”
Top Nepali political leadership is almost sure about, or aware of, India’s position on the polls or House reinstatement, the JSP leader said. “So there is hardly anything left for Bhattarai to share but Bhattarai might say why and how Oli is destroying and damaging the constitution and democracy in Nepal and is likely to seek India’s non-cooperation with Oli.”
The former prime minister has some problems in his intestine so he is visiting India but it’s not sure he will be visiting on Sunday, Bhattarai’s aide Bidhowdeep Pandey said.
In the first week of January, former prime minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal also visited Mumbai and New Delhi for the treatment of his wife Sita Dahal. On his way back to Kathmandu via Mumbai, Dahal stopped for a night in New Delhi and held talks with some officials from the Indian establishment. The matter of discussion was disclosed neither by the party nor Dahal.
Another former prime minister, Jhala Nath Khanal returned from New Delhi on Saturday after treatment at Apollo Hospital. He did not meet any official or politician in New Delhi, a source close to Khanal said.
Though Nepali politicians visit India regularly, very few have relations with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, former Nepali ambassador to Denmark Bijaya Kant Karna said. “Bhattarai’s visit to New Delhi seems purely for health reasons but given his stature as a former prime minister, he will definitely meet some leaders and officials there.”
Many Nepali leaders have relations with Indian National Congress or communist leaders but very few have relations with BJP leaders. “But if Bhattarai meets Indian officials and politicians, it will be a good opportunity for him to understand what is India’s observation of the ongoing Nepali politics,” said Karna.