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Deuba Trip

editPrime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba’s New Delhi trip begun Wednesday is unique in its treatment in our mainstream media. A section would make it the butt of jokes satirizing the routine pilgrimage of the newly incumbent for homage and patronage. Another would rather express reservations as to what more compromises to national interest one may anticipate at this juncture of Nepal-India ties. As it stands, there is no release of agenda this round but the prime minister’s discussions with leaders here suggest that one factor of immediate common concern will figure and that is to do with the perennial topic of water resources because of the global attention on the disastrous floods. Somehow, media would rather also hint at the possibility that the ongoing Sino-Indian spat at the Bhutan- China border will also be a likely topic because of the threats of spillovers and, somewhere round the corner, some even tend to suggest that Deuba may take up the issue of the Nepal-India 1950 treaty. Of course, it is generally understood that the visit is designed to project the continuity in Nepal-India relations and will touch upon the co-operational aspects in our bilateral relations.
What our pliant media would rather not touch upon is the certainty that personal meetings between Deuba and his Indian counterpart cannot but touch upon the political situation in both countries. Of impactual interest in Nepal are the changes in the federal government in India’s bordering U.P, Bihar and, in Bengal, the cross border concerns of the Gorkhaland movement. Also the assertion of India’s ruling BJP in other structures of the federal government such as the changes in the Indian presidency. A visibly stronger Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcomes his Nepali counterpart who has only the other day lost a sterling constitutional vote on amendments he tabled in the Nepalese parliament. Deuba’s weakened moral position and the fact that his is a coalition government in parliament, significantly enough, compares poorly with Modi’s who heads not only the first majority government after the Indian Congress in India but also is demonstrating his decisive presence in the majority of the governments in its federal states including those in Nepal’s immediate proximity. Somehow one cannot escape conjecturing upon the impact of such developments in the, not altogether hidden, Indian interest in the over a decade long Nepali constitutional developments. One is hoping that the changes in India-hands on Nepali affairs accompanying the decisive change in leadership across the border will reflect itself upon talks held in New Delhi this time. For one thing, the Indian foreign policy establishment will have by now been aware of the impacts on the Nepali population of traditional South Block approaches to Nepal and the need for corrections of which they are better capable now. For another, on part of his visiting Nepali counterpart, there must be need to reevaluate and concede that the absence of visible corrections followed by his party leadership as that manifest in the current tryst with constitution making will remain a longstanding hurdle in the rebuilding of long term trust and confidence at the people to people level in both countries. Indeed, if Deuba visits Delhi where the India-China focus is at its peak, it will carry much meaning when the emphasis, more than merely bilateral, is regional confidence building. Gains made here would be more long term to the extent of realizing that any meaningful solution to water issues among others in the region lie collectively in the proximity of the region as well.

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