On his maiden official visit outside the country, Dr Ram Baran Yadav, first president of Nepal--the world’s youngest republic, would like to thank people of India--the largest democracy.
Yadav, the first commoner to reach Nepal’s highest office in July 2008 after abolition of monarchy, will reach New Delhi on Monday on a four day visit that is expected to further cement cordial relation between both nations.
“India has always stood behind us over the past six decades during Nepal’s struggle to become a democracy,” he said during an exclusive interaction with Hindustan Times ahead of the visit.
“I would like to thank the Indian people for their support and would expect continued cooperation in strengthening democracy in Nepal and helping in its economic development.”
Although the visit comes at a time when Nepal’s main opposition party, the UCPN (Maoist), has stepped up its anti-India rhetoric, Yadav feels that “small irritants” have not affected relations between both neighbours.
Having spent 14 years of his life in Kolkata and Chandigarh as a student, the 64-year-old former medical practitioner would have liked to catch up with old friends, but that won’t be possible this time around.
“Since the Maha Kumbh is on, I would go to Haridwar to take a dip in the Ganga and resume contact with persons like Swami Ramdev,” said the farmer’s son from Safai in Nepal’s ‘terai’ region.
But first he would meet a host of dignitaries like President Pratibha Patil, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and External Affairs Minister SM Krishna.
Several agreements like extension of five railway lines from India to border areas in Nepal, construction of an Indo-Nepal friendship hall in Birganj and a polytechnic at Hetauda would also be signed during the visit.
Commenting on the ongoing peace process and current political situation in Nepal, Yadav stated that progress since signing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2006 has been slow but steady.
“This is my final examination. If I can do my bit in bringing political stability to the country and leave it in a better position, I will consider myself successful,” said Yadav about his role in the process.