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Nepal’s Oli reaches out to Modi, says ready to work with India

The victory of a leftist alliance in Nepal’s polls had fuelled concerns about relations with India in light of the anti-Indian rhetoric by Communist leaders KP Sharma Oli and Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda”.

world Updated: Jan 31, 2018 07:01 IST
Anil Giri
Anil Giri
Hindustan Times, Kathmandu
Nepal,KP Sharma Oli,Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi with KP Oli during the latter’s visit to New Delhi in 2016.(HT File)

Communist leader KP Sharma Oli, widely seen as Nepal’s next prime minister, has expressed his readiness to work with the Indian government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi days ahead of a crucial visit by external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj.

The victory of a leftist alliance in Nepal’s recent polls had fuelled concerns about relations with India in light of the strident anti-Indian rhetoric by Oli and another senior communist leader, Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda”. Both leaders are perceived as tilting towards China.

In a letter written to Modi ahead of Republic Day on January 26, Oli stated he was looking forward to working with the Indian government. The letter is being seen as an attempt by CPN-UML chief Oli to mend fences with India before Swaraj arrives in Kathmandu on February 1 for consultations with the Nepalese political leadership.

“As one of the recently elected people’s representatives and leader of the largest party in the Federal Parliament, I am eager to work together with Excellency and your government for the betterment of our two countries,” Oli wrote in the letter.

A vocal critic of New Delhi’s policies towards Kathmandu following the blockade along the southern border with India, Oli also wrote that he expected “further close cooperation between our two countries and the people”.

He said that Nepal is learning from India’s Constitution in the process of implementing its new Constitution.

In 2016, Oli had blamed New Delhi for toppling his government. He also cancelled a visit by Nepal’s president to India and recalled the Nepalese ambassador, Deep Kumar Uphadhya, ahead of his government’s fall. These steps were seen as retaliatory actions against India.

Modi has spoken on telephone with Oli twice in the past one month, and assured him that Nepal’s new government will receive full support and cooperation from India. In response, Oli invited Modi to visit Nepal and to make a trip to two popular pilgrimage destinations – Lumbini and Muktinath.

Lumbini is the birthplace of Buddha and Muktinath is a Hindu religious site where Modi had spent some months during his early days in politics.

Of late, CPN-UML leaders and Indian ambassador Manjeev Singh Puri have been saying that both countries want to “extend support and cooperation” to each other and “build up relations in the changing context”.

Oli is set to form the government with the backing of the CPN-Maoist Centre. The CPN-UML and CPN-Maoist Centre, which forged an alliance before last year’s elections, are also expected to formally merge following the formation of the government.

ends

First Published: Jan 30, 2018 19:29 IST