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Prachanda begins second trip to India

Nepal's Maoist PM Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda began his three-day visit to India, the second formal trip to the southern neighbour since September.

world Updated: Nov 12, 2008 12:47 IST

Nepal's Maoist Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda on Wednesday began his three-day visit to India, the second formal trip to the southern neighbour since September.

Heading a 12-member delegation, the former guerrilla chief left for New Delhi on a Nepal Airlines flight to attend the second summit of regional grouping BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multisectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation).

On the evening of his arrival, the Maoist leader will hold bilateral talks with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

He is also scheduled to have one-to-one talks with Thai PM Somchai Wingsawat after the BIMSTEC meet on Thursday.

On Friday, Prachanda will visit Dehradun, the capital of India's Uttarakhand state, to see the Tehri Dam. The visit is regarded as a bid by the Indian government to assuage Nepal's fears about the construction of the high dams that are part of mega India-Nepal hydropower projects.

The prime ministerial delegation includes Water Resources Minister Bishnu Poudel, chief secretary Bhojraj Pokhrel and the PM's foreign affairs adviser Hira Bahadur Thapa.

After growing criticism at home about the inclusion of his wife Sita Poudel and son Prakash on his entourage while travelling abroad on official work, this time the other members of the first family have not been included.

Nepal's Foreign Minister Upendra Yadav is already in New Delhi to attend the BIMSTEC meet.

On the eve of his India visit and meeting with Singh, Prachanda averted a domestic crisis on Tuesday by agreeing to fulfil the demands made by the main opposition party, former prime minister Girija Prasad Koirala's Nepali Congress (NC).

The NC had threatened to obstruct Nepal's interim parliament from this week if Prachanda had failed to appease them.

Soon after his return home, Prachanda faces another stiff challenge.

The Maoists will hold a national convention of their top leaders from November 18 where Prachanda's leadership is expected to be challenged by the hawks in the party.