As Nepal’s insurgent-turned Prime Minister Prachanda begins his five-day visit to India on Sunday, people of the Himalayan Nation are anxious as to how New Delhi welcomes the new leader.
There is a sense of discomfort in the minds of almost every Nepali over the high-profile visit as Prachanda broke the decade-old tradition of foreign visits by flying to Beijing instead of New Delhi immediately after taking over as PM.
Moreover, there has been a growing feeling among Nepalis that New Delhi is not euphoric with the birth of a new ‘radical communist’ nation in the neighbourhood.
“Let us hope that India would offer a red-carpet welcome to him (Prachanda),” Yughnath Sharma, a Kathmandu-based journalist, said, adding that New Delhi should try to treat the Beijing-trip as a non-issue, and forge a stronger bond of friendship with Nepal.
Historically, Nepal has always been India’s friendly neighbour and shares strong socio-cultural bonds as well as a healthy diplomatic relationship.
The relationships reached a new point in June 2006 when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh rushed to the Indira Gandhi International airport in New Delhi, breaking the protocol, to receive the visiting Nepali Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala.
“Let us hope that forgetting his (Prachanda’s) political background, India would accept our new PM as a true democratic leader of a newly-born republican nation,” Shankar Sharma, a student leader, said.
The average Nepalis feel that India should contribute more to Nepal’s development process, and help the insurgency-ravaged nation to develop a stronger economic backbone.
So far, New Delhi has been generously helping Nepal in several development projects, and at present, India is the largest donor in the country.
Economist and former Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat has advised Prachanda to take up the issue of trade-deficit with India and requested the new PM to find out ways balance it.
Unfortunately, some thorny issues like the Indo-Nepal Friendship Treaty of 1950 and the Kosi Treaty of 1954 have been a cause of bad-blood between the two countries.
“The bilateral treaties should not be cause of any form of hatred and the problems should be resolved amicably,” Rajesh Shrestha, a businessman said.
The Kosi flood issue is definitely going to come up during Prachanda’s bilateral meetings with Manmohan Singh and External Affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee.