When Prachanda, the predecessor of Baburam Bhattarai visited China in August 2008, he broke away from one tradition — India being the first foreign port of call for the new prime minister of Nepal.
But the “moderate” Maoist leader and Prime Minister Bhattarai is making amends. When he arrives here for three-day trip on October 20, it will be his first foreign visit — something Indian establishment will be keen to highlight.
The visit is primarily aimed at seeking Indian support for the political transition, which remains fragile, in Nepal.
On its part, New Delhi is preparing to forge stronger ties with the Maoist leader, whose ilk it views with a fair amount of suspicion.
"We are looking to engage with the new leader in a positive manner," says an Indian official, as two countries are looking to work together, putting behind a loud acrimonious relationship after the Maoist came to power.
The official also said that Nepal and India share a "special relation" and hoped the former will be sensitive to various Indian concerns especially security-related issues.
Though no big pacts are on the cards, both sides are expected to step up economic ties and cooperation in power sector is set to be a key focus area.
"Nepal can derive immense economic benefits if they cooperate with us", he added reminding that attacks on certain Indian joint venture companies "do not augur well" for fostering business ties. "Such attacks discourages entrepreneurs and debilitates business relations", he stressed.
New Delhi is also keen on signing a Bilateral Investment Protection and Promotion Agreement (BIPPA).
"The discussions are on for the BIPPA. And it is a work in progress" the official added.
During his stay in India, Bhattarai would hold talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and call on President Pratibha Patil, besides meeting other Indian dignitaries. He would also interact with representatives of Indian business community, civil society and intellectuals.