The India visit that PM Deuba nailed down

India-Nepal joint statement

RISHI DHAMALA:  Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, during his five-day state visit to India, has become successful in winning the trust of his counterpart Narendra Modi. The Indian government placed PM Deuba’s visit as of high significance. PM Deuba had embarked on a trip to India on August 23 at the invitation of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Within a few hours of his arrival in the Indian capital, Indian Prime Minister Modi called on a ‘surprise warm-up’ meeting with PM Deuba. And, the 30 minutes long one-to-one talk between the two visiting head of the state is a matter of great significance from any diplomatic point of view; and it has already gestured towards producing extraordinary outcomes.

After Deuba raised the issue of constitution amendment in Delhi following his bilateral meeting with Modi, it provoked a number of harsh criticisms in Nepal from the opposition parties and even the ruling partner CPN (Maoist Center) questioning the supremacy of Nepal’s sovereignty and parliament. Also, the understanding on expediting of DPR of the Koshi high dam construction at the back of the fresh memories of devastating floods and landslides in southern plains also invited anger among Nepali people.

Despite this, his India visit can be taken as of huge success as it was focused on strengthening of relations and expansion of development cooperation and connectivity thereby enhancing economic and diplomatic ties.

Experts analyze that India is aware of Nepal’s increasing bilateral alliance with economic powerhouse China. In this backdrop, it was Indian PM Modi’s strategic move to develop closer ties with Nepal’s top political leaders in his hand.

Although four prime ministers of Nepal have paid courtesy visit to India, since Modi became prime minister in 2014, Deuba was the first after the then Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala to receive special welcome at his arrival at Indira Ghandi International Airport when he was welcomed by the then Indian PM Dr Manamohan Singn in 2063 BS.

Indian Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj herself received Deuba giving a message of special respect and significance. After Koirala, numerous prime ministers from Nepal had India visits but failed to receive such accolade.

PM Deuba also called on Indian President, Vice-president and other top leaders of India during his visit. His counterpart Modi called on Deuba twice. He invited PM Deuba at the former’s official residence and held a meeting a day prior to scheduled meeting. Although the meeting was informal in nature, such meetings added to the cordiality of the relations among them. The meeting helped boost the bilateral relations and cement the mutual trust—clearing any misunderstandings and strains between the two sides.

A joint press conference was organized after the bilateral talks. The 46-points joint press release was focused on the effective implementation of past accords made so far between Nepal and India and the future projects.

Deuba clearly raised the issues of national interest during the meeting. Modi also expressed his happiness about Deuba’s proposals. The important achievements of the bilateral visit was the understanding to expedite the detailed project report (DPR) of the Pancheshwor Multipurpose Project, electricity supply from India to end the load shedding in Nepal, cooperation in the sub-regional, regional and international forums for development and promotion of two countries’ cultural relations and necessary support from India for the national pride projects declared by the Nepal government.

Deuba also raised the issue of constitution amendment in Delhi and expressed his commitment to amend constitution to make it acceptable to all the communities. Although it evoked angered criticism from opposition parties in Nepal, it shows Deuba’s is gaining support from international communities to direct Nepal in the path of constitution implementation and political stability. It may be noted that Indian PM Modi has always mentioned that Nepal’s constitution should be inclusive and represent the voice of all people and communities of Nepal.

The disgruntled Rastriya Janata Party Nepal also registered at the Election Commission for the upcoming elections while PM Deuba was in India visit—thanks to Deuba’s tactical ability which finally persuaded the disgruntled sides to come abroad the election process. Indian PM Modi also congratulated Deuba for successfully holding local level elections and pledged any kind support in the process of constitution implementation.

One of the most significant achievements of this visit is: Deuba’s invitation to Indian PM for laying foundation stone to the much awaited Arun III project. Indian PM Modi has also expressed his wish to visit Nepal again. He had visited Nepal in 2014. His another visit to Nepal will prove another milestone for both the countries in strengthening diplomatic ties and moving forward in the path of peace and prosperity.

Indian PM Modi has always given high emphasis on infrastructure development in Nepal. He wants to establish connectivity between the two countries through railway construction and accelerate the Postal Highway construction. Concrete measures for the proper utilization of water resources are also the agendas of top priority.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Krishna Bahadru Mahara’s role was very important in making Deub’s visit successful. Likewise, Indian Ambassador to Nepal Manjiv Singh Puri has also remained very much successful in developing positive diplomatic ties between the two countries.