Free Press Journal

Nepal PM Prachanda likley to visit India ahead of China


Kathmandu: Prachanda is likely to visit India on his first official foreign trip as Nepal’s prime minister, in a departure from his earlier practice when he visited Beijing ahead of New Delhi in 2008.

The Maoist chief, who was elected by lawmakers to the top post for the second time earlier this month, had rubbed India the wrong way when he chose China as his first destination after taking over as the premier in 2008 and attended the Beijing Olympics that year.

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Prachanda’s predecessor, KP Sharma Oli too visited India as his first official foreign destination. But the run up to his visit was surrounded by intense speculation that the Communist leader might visit China ahead of India.

Oli, viewed by many as pro-China, visited India in February, when the agitation by Madhesis – inhabitants of the southern plains who share strong cultural and family bonds with Indians – over Nepal’s new Constitution was at its peak.

The protesters had blocked trade transit points with India, creating a huge shortage of essential goods and fuel in the landlocked Nepal.

The usual practice of new prime ministers in Nepal is to visit to India, ahead of China. Prachanda’s China trip in 2008 was the only departure from that practice.

It is learnt that he will visit India ahead of China this time, sources said.

The development comes as Nepal’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Home Affairs Bimlendra Nidhi begins his two-day visit to India as Prachanda’s special envoy today.

His visit is aimed at preparing ground for Prachanda’s forthcoming visit to India, foreign ministry sources said.

Nidhi is expected to discuss the possible visit by President Pranab Mukherjee to Nepal and the proposed visit by Nepalese President Bidya Devi Bhandari to India, they said.

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The visit is also aimed at normalising and improving Nepal’s relations with India, which was at an all-time low since the promulgation of the Constitution in Nepal last year and over the Madhesi agitation.

Prachanda has send a special envoy to China as well.

Deputy Prime Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara’s visit to China comes following anxieties in Beijing over the fate of projects connecting China and Nepal to reduce dependence on India.