PM’s state visit helps tone down differences

(By Prakash Silwal)

Kathmandu, Feb 25: “I have not arrived with any shopping list; the prime precedence of my visit is to remove the misunderstanding in our friendship,” Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli reiterated this statement in New Delhi while on a state visit to India and invariably conveyed a message that Nepal is not weak in terms of its dignity despite being small in the formation.
The PM’s state visit to India at the invitation of PM Narendra Modi has helped at detente with India after a cold spell of strained relations and also provided a window of opportunity for resolving the misunderstanding over Nepal’s Constitution.
PM Oli constantly reminded of his objective to enhance collaboration and mutual respect between Nepal and its two giant neighbours – India and China. The conspicuous absence of a joint press statement from the two countries has somewhat casted a doubt giving rise to an inevitable question if the relations between the two countries have returned to old stature.
On this regard, PM Oli said the salutation bestowed on him during the state visit and the public praise and accolade to the constitution are enough.
The anti-Indian sentiment shot up dramatically in Nepal after the Indian government imposed an undeclared blockade in midst of the agitation launched by Madhes-centric parties in protest of some provisions in the new constitution.
The tête-à-tête between PM Oli and his Indian counterpart followed by a high level bilateral talks, and agreement on seven subjects have signaled success.
The Indian government bestowed state honour on PM Oli, who was on his maiden foreign trip. The public in Gujarat also spontaneously welcomed the Nepali head of government. All these including the PM’s appeal to the Indian traders and entrepreneurs to further their investment in Nepal have shown a positive sign.
India is concerned on security and it does not want any security issues from coming across the border with Nepal.

During his six-day state visit to India, PM Oli held separate meetings with Indian President Pranab Mukherjee, Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Vice President of Indian National Congress Party Rahul Gandhi, among others.

Oli’s India visit is expected to pave way for the exchange of high-level visits of officials of both Nepal and India in the days to come.

During the bilateral meeting between PM Oli and Indian PM Modi at Hyderabad House in New Delhi, discussions were held on the 1950 treaty, implementation of Pancheshwor Project and cross-border management among others.

An agreement was also reached during the meeting to expand business and investment in Nepal, collaboration in the post-quake reconstruction works and linking the Tarai plain with road network and building infrastructures. The two countries also agreed on operating transit road with Bangladesh via the Indian territory.

During his meeting with Indian officials and various political party leaders, PM Oli stated that Nepal and its citizens have emotional ties with India and its citizens.

Underlining India’s continued role as a big development partner of Nepal, PM Oli said during the meeting that Nepal’s constitution was promulgated with support and good-wishes from India.

PM Oli also assured Indian PM Modi not to be worried over security concerns at the border.

During Oli’s India visit, seven agreements were signed including for the development of road infrastructure in Tarai area, carrying out post-quake reconstructions, the opening of transit road and expansion of Dhalkebar-Muzaffarpur transmission line, among others.