Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be in Nepal for a two-day state visit. He will be in Kathmandu on May 11th and 12th reciprocating Khadga Prasad Oli’s interest to bolster bilateral ties between the two countries. This will be PM Modi’s third visit to Nepal in the last four years. It was also reported that a team from the Ministry of External Affairs was already in Nepal preparing for the Prime Minister’s visit. Several sore points between India and Nepal are likely to be addressed. Earlier, Nepal had made it completely clear to India that it was not ignoring China. Speaking to Financial Express Online, China expert Dr Jabin Jacob says, “It is Nepal’s policy and they cannot ignore China. However, India should not perceive this as a threat. The Chinese might promise Nepal railways and better Wifi, but Nepal too cannot afford to ignore its dependence on India”.
The Chinese have invested heavily in Nepal by initiating extension of the Xining-Lhasa railway till the Nepal border. In addition, the Chinese have also promised to finish the Pokhara International Airport in Nepal by 2021. Three roads connecting Nepal and China would also be ready in a couple of years. The existing bilateral issues and the overbearing Chinese influence in the subcontinent remain to be of major concern to India’s Prime Minister visits Nepal and India has now come to realise that there needs to be more participation between India and Nepal.
Nevertheless, the Government of India’s message to Nepal seems to be tough. Narendra Modi had made it clear to Oli that India would not buy energy that generated by the dams built by Chinese. Earlier, Oli had shown an interest in reviving the stopped project of Budhi Gandaki after assuming office. Rebranding its policy stand, the Modi government has continued to take a firm stand on issues that it perceives as Chinese threat. India has also been diplomatic and efficient enough to sugarcoat its stand, by equally engaging with Nepal. It was also reported by India Today, that Nepal did not have any other avenues to sell its energy.
Prime Minister Oli in his address to the parliament before visiting India had also said that he would not sign any deal against the national pride of Nepal. The Indian Express report also said that Oli wished to review the 1950 Treaty of Peace and Friendship with India, that which was binding Nepal to consult with India before it had to enter any security relationship with another country.
“This is perhaps the rhetoric that Nepal is using to gain more respect. India has always provided employment to Nepalese in not just its domestic economy, but also in other sectors. Nepal cannot brush it aside. In the past, India has reviewed many treaties. But, Nepal must also ask if they are ready to make sacrifices for such a change in the treaty. Is Nepal’s economy stable for such a change is something that they need to ponder upon”, added Jacob.
Nepal’s Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Oli who had earlier accused India of backing the 135-day blockade during the Madhesi crisis in Nepal visited New Delhi on his maiden trip to India after assuming office in February 2018. Despite his earlier dissatisfaction with India, Oli accompanied by his wife, Radhika Shakya Oli visited India and was received by Home Minister Rajnath Singh on April 7th. After which, addressing the Nepali and Indian business delegations, he spoke
at a Business Forum in New Delhi.
Apart from meeting political leaders and attending ceremonial receptions, Oli and Narendra Modi signed a number of agreements. After the delegation level talks at Hyderabad House on April 7th, the two leaders inaugurated the Arun III project and the integrated check post at Birgunj-Raxaul, enabling better movement of cargos and goods vehicles from India to Nepal.
India-Nepal also signed the agreement to enhance people-to-people linkages and promote economic growth. Both the Prime Ministers agreed to construct a new electrified rail line connecting the border city of Raxaul in India to Kathmandu in Nepal. In a joint statement, the Prime Ministers affirmed their commitment to cooperate in promoting the agriculture production and processing. The two leaders also signed a MoU on agriculture and have decided to launch New Partnership in Agriculture.
Now, it is likely that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will strengthen the relations further by taking forward the agreements that they had signed in India. Modi will be bolstering ties with Nepal by further engaging in agriculture research and development, connectivity, defence and energy. Prime Minister Modi will also be in Janakpur, which is considered to the birthplace of Sita, wife Lord Rama, to address a gathering.