President and PM are on hunt to fight against China
Indian President Pranab Mukherjee’s trip to Nepal next week which is primarily to revive his contacts across political spectrum in the Himalayan nation, followed by the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Japan for an annual summit to deepen defence ties and signing of a civil nuclear deal, are seen as confident steps against China in the region.
So much is the importance of President’s visit that the Nepal government has announced a public holiday on November 2, the day he arrives in Kathmandu.
India- Nepal Friendship
Since many years, India and China have been competing to grow their influence in Nepal. Chinese President Xi Jinping was supposed to visit Nepal on his way to the BRICS summit early this month, but the plan was dropped after a regime change in Kathmandu in August saw Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ replacing KP Oli, who was regarded as a closer ally of Beijing. After coming to power, Prachanda chose India as the destination for his first foreign visit last month. With Mukherjee’s visit, India has taken a march over China, as he will be the first head of state visiting Kathmandu after the takeover of new government.
Last month Chinese media had even accused India of ‘interfering’ in its relations with Nepal and ‘pressuring’ new leader Prachanda to move away from Beijing.
A Cabinet meeting in Kathmandu on Thursday decided to declare November 2 a public holiday to honour the President of India, a move criticised by many across social media, accusing the government of becoming submissive to India.
The ruling Prachanda government later clarified that the decision was taken in view of public inconvenience as during such a high profile visit, it would be difficult for the people to commute.
Indian President’s visit
President Mukherjee will also visit Janakpur and Pokhra, located about 123 kms away from Kathmandu. Janakpur has an important historic significance for Hindus as it is said that it is the birthplace of Lord Rama’s wife Sita (also called Janaki in Nepal).
Sudhakar Dalela, Joint Secretary of North, Ministry of External Affairs stated that the intensive high-level engagements in recent times have provided considerable momentum to India’s close and friendly ties with Nepal. He added, besides these exchanges, numerous bilateral mechanisms at the functional level have met in recent times, covering issues such as trade, economic cooperation, agriculture, water resources, power cooperation, defence and security, culture, education, and connectivity projects.
Before the President’s visit, India-Nepal’s Joint Commission meeting was concluded that was co-chaired by the Foreign Ministers of both the countries, and reviewed all aspects of the bilateral relations. The Joint Commission reviewed the progress in projects covered under the Lines of Credits, and agreed to expedite its implementation. India has conveyed its readiness to participate in post-earthquake reconstruction projects in partnership with the Nepalese government.
Nepalese Ambassador designate Deep Kumar Upadhyay has called for redressing all issues between India and Nepal in a positive manner.
He stated that an expert group would discuss the 1950 treaty and give its recommendations within three years after holding consultations with stakeholders. He added that 70 per cent of trade in the Himalayan nation was dependent on India due to geographical reasons.