By PR Pradhan
By following the tradition established since the introduction of multiparty system in 1990 in the country, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli after assuming the office two months ago, made his first official visit to Delhi from 6 to 8 April.
Before, his departure to Delhi, Oli had said that it was a goodwill visit and he is not carrying any new agenda. The government mood was to hold talks on all the impending past agreements rather than submitting a new demand list. The Nepali side, without any hesitation, has put forward Nepal’s concerns, which have been positively responded to by the Indian side. The Indian side has agreed to construct the Birgunj-Kathmandu railway-line and to allow waterways to run middle-sized Nepali ships in the Indian rivers. This time, it seems, India has changed her “big brotherly” attitude and, it seems, she has wished to treat Nepal as a sovereign and independent nation.
It is clear that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is facing criticism from the opposition parties for worsening relations with the neighbouring countries. Furthermore, Nepal-India relations were very bad since India imposed economic blockade on Nepal. The UML-Maoist Center alliance was able to sweep the elections as Oli had taken nationalistic stance, which was appreciated by the voters. Therefore, since the Left alliance swept the elections, the Modi government in India is trying its best to please Oli. Understandably, the hidden India agenda is to also stop Chinese investments in Nepal and to stop PM Oli from endorsing transportation/transit treaty as well as construction of the Rasuwagari-Kathmandu-Pokhara-Lumbini railway line and to stop China from constructing big and specially water reservoir based hydropower projects including the Budhigandaki project . On the eve of Oli’s arrival in Delhi, the Indian newspapers had reported that India will not buy electricity generated by the Chinese companies. This makes clear that India wants to push back Chinese investors from constructing hydropower projects in Nepal.
The other thing is that India is developing inland waterways operating ships in the Indian rivers. During the dry season, India needs water to operate ships in rivers. The Indian idea is to construct high-dam multiple projects in Nepal’s big rivers such as Mahakali, Seti, Karnali, Gandaki, Koshi, among others and channelize water for irrigating Indian land and discharging water reserved in Nepali land to operate ships in the Indian rivers. If China will occupy such reservoir projects, the Indian interests will not be fulfilled. Therefore, the Indian leaders have tried to win Oli’s heart by offering him extraordinary hospitality during his stay in Delhi. During his arrival at the Indira Gandhi International Airport, Oli was received by powerful Indian home minister Rajnath Singh and another cabinet minister. Modi and Oli held non-scheduled one-on-one meeting on 6 April. After the meeting, both the leaders were seen in a delighted mood.
Nepal and India have endorsed agreements in many things, including infrastructural development. Not to forget, this is just an agreement and there is no time limit. As we know, for more than two decades, the Pancheshwar project has been languishing and there are many other projects pending. Therefore, there is no guarantee on implementation of these agreements as well.
Oli was however unable to attend the Boao Forum for Asia Summit in Boao, Hainan, he is waiting for an official trip to Beijing. Oli has time and again said that he will maintain equidistance relations with both the neighbours – India and China. How will Oli act in Beijing after his visit to Delhi, it will make clear as to what extent Oli was mesmerized by Modi!
Oli meets Modi
By PR Pradhan