Modi visit likely after Oli becomes PM: Gyawali

- Post Report, Kathmandu
The way Indian establishment is reaching out, one can assume Modi might visit Nepal soon after Oli takes office: UML leader

Feb 5, 2018-Indian PM Narendra Modi could visit Nepal soon after KP Sharma Oli is elected prime minister, CPN-UML Secretary Pradeep Gyawali said on Sunday without giving much detail.

“Given the way the Indian establishment is reaching out to us and their eagerness to work with the new government in Nepal, we can assume that the Indian prime minister might visit Nepal as soon as Oli becomes the PM,” said Gyawali.

“But there has been no concrete discussion about his visit. We have sensed, after a series of meetings with the Indian side and the recent visit of the external affairs minister, that India wants correction of the course with Nepal that had deviated after promulgation of the new constitution,” Gyawali told the Post.

But a senior Indian Embassy official said “there is no such indication of the visit of Prime Minister Modi immediately after Oli becomes the PM. The PM’s time table is to visit Nepal in June or July during the fourth summit of BIMSTEC.”

According to UML leaders, the Indian side’s perceived “eagerness” to reach out to Oli suggested that Modi would visit Nepal in a bid to mend his frayed ties with the UML.

“My understanding is that India wants to mend relations as well as break the tradition. A high-level visit could take place,” said Gyawali.

According to the Indian official, New Delhi would first observe new government formation. “Then other things will surface. As of now we have not even discussed a visit by PM Modi to Nepal for laying the foundation stone for Arun III hydroelectric 

project.”

Modi was set to visit Nepal in September last year for commencing the project but the plan was changed due to announcement of the left alliance. After completion of the three tiers of election in Nepal, Modi had telephone conversations with Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, CPN (Maoist Centre) Chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal and UML Chair Oli to congratulate them on successful conduction of the polls.

The Indian PM called Oli for the second time to congratulate him on his party’s electoral success and to invite him to visit Delhi after becoming the PM. 

Oli wrote to Modi on the occasion of the 69th Republic Day of India and conveyed that he was willing to work with Delhi for Nepal’s prosperity. “Both Oli and Modi invited each other during the telephone conversation. Thus, we can expect Modi to visit Nepal soon after Oli becomes the prime minister,” Gyawali said at the Reporters’ Club on Sunday.

External Affairs Minister of India Sushma Swaraj came to Nepal on a two-day visit last week. During her stay, she held meetings with President Bidya Devi Bhandari, PM Deuba, Oli, Dahal and Madhesi leaders, conveying a message that India wanted to enhance bilateral partners with Kathmandu.

Gyawali remarked that Swaraj’s visit had helped deepen diplomatic ties between the two neighbours. “Swaraj brought Modi’s message to Nepal. Mistrust, if any, has been cleared [with that],” he added.

On some negative remarks made over the visit, the UML leader said it was unnecessary for some leaders to criticise Swaraj’s visit as “inappropriate”. “In the past, Nepali leaders went to India before forming a government. This trend has been broken. It’s a positive message,” said Gyawali.

On the planned UML-Maoist merger, Gyawali tried to clear doubts saying that government formation and party unification would be finalised before mid-March.

Published: 05-02-2018 07:55

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