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Delhi Talk

Gleaning much from Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba’s India pilgrimage would be a mistake. As he himself said prior to his visit, it was designed to pursue previous agreements and provide continuity to bilateral ties. He has done it. The Indians, on the other hand, despite the largely marginal media coverage of the trip, have courted him well. His visit merited a slightly uplifted welcome by his reception at the airport with Indian foreign minister Sushma Swaraj at hand. As it is, his Indian counterpart once again displayed yet another attempt at personal diplomacy with a surprise personal visit where none were to witness his unscheduled talks on a one to one basis. What transpired there is what matters. Given the highly unreliable nature of Nepali politics, it is unlikely that both prime ministers are willing to publicly divulge the contents of this significantly private talk in public. After all this is what personal diplomacy is made of and none less than Narendra Modi should be aware of this.
That Deuba chose to talk of Nepali politics publicly has been pounced upon here. Few have chosen to point out that the Indian establishment insists that their view on the scheme of things in Nepal remains unchanged. As it stands, the much demanded of Indian attention on flooding have for too long been bilateral matters demanding procedural attention at the bureaucratic levels where national standpoints have yet to come clear. Prime Minister Deuba has gone and come back, made his contact, kept up the ritual façade. Prime Minister Modi has said his piece. What is important is what should transpire now in Nepal. It is another matter that Deuba should drop a few public lines in New Delhi on the aberration that is supposed to be Nepal’s constitutionalism. His opponents will oppose as his supporters will support.
What matters though is the general public nonchalance on the Indian trip. Media discussions here on the topic said nothing new. The fact is that our political masters would rather focus on the hastening of the implementation of the new constitution on which Deuba dropped his lines. He would have had to delve on it anyway since previous two way visits have so preoccupied the topic that ignoring it outright could well have ben considered a lapse. What with Indian micro-management in the country, the public nonchalance on the trip itself would already have been explained. Unless we are in for a major upheaval for change, public words would be wasted by mere mouthing of diplomatic cognizance. This is why perhaps Modi’s unscheduled personal talk with his guest carries meaning. In this sense, it is not quite possible to dismiss the Deuba trip as mere routine.

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