Kathmandu/New Delhi, April 27 (IANS) Nepal’s former prime minister and Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) chairperson Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ arrives in the Indian capital Saturday on a four-day trip, a visit that has been described as a “thaw” by the Nepalese media and one that could go a long way in narrowing the “mistrust and misgivings” between the two sides.
This will be his third to India since his once underground party joined mainstream politics in 2006.
Prachanda is expected to raise the issue of “tripartite cooperation among China, Nepal and India to address the security concerns of both the giant neighbours”. He had last visited New Delhi as Nepal’s first elected prime minister in September 2008.
Addressing a party event at Bhrikutimandap in Nepal on Friday, Prachanda had said: “We cannot address the security concerns of China and India unless Nepal is developed,” and added that he has clearly put forth his concern and will also do the same when he meets with the Indian leaders, media reports quoted him as saying.
On Friday, he called on President Ram Baran Yadav and later on Interim Election Council chairman Khil Raj Regmi to brief them about the India visit, his personal secretary Chudamani Khadka told the media.
Prachanda is visiting India from April 27-30. “During the visit, he is likely to meet senior Government functionaries and others from across the political spectrum. Mr. Dahal is likely to visit some of our projects in areas of power, IT and tourism to explore possibilities of expanding India-Nepal trade and economic cooperation, and our bilateral development partnership,” said Indian government sources.
Prachanda’s visit to India comes days after he returned from a week-long tour of China, during which he had met the new Chinese leadership and stressed on the need for increased economic cooperation between China and Nepal. Prachanda met Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing.
During his Beijing visit April 14-20, Prachanda had talked about “a strategic tripartite partnership” between China, India and Nepal, the cornerstone of which would be peace, stability and development.
An interim government led by Chief Justice Khil Raj Regmi took over the country’s reins on March 14 to oversee Constituent Assembly (CA) elections, likely in November. India has welcomed the formation of the interim government.
The Kantipur, in an editorial titled “Overcoming mistrust Dahal’s India trip focus”, said “much is now water under the bridge” in relations between Prachanda and New Delhi. “Dahal significantly watered down his anti-Indian rants, clearly signalling the realisation of realpolitik. New Delhi also realised its mistake of attempting to keep the Maoists away from the political process. Fences were not fully mended until a slew of events in April 2011 when Dahal fully supported his deputy Baburam Bhattarai’s line of peace and constitution. He even made desperate attempts around this time through high-level contacts in India to go to Delhi, but the south paid no heed.”
“However, the splitting of the hardline faction from the UCPN (Maoist), the formation of a government led by the ‘pro-Indian’ (Baburam) Bhattarai and the party’s migration from the line of ‘People’s republic’ to ‘capitalist revolution’, has culminated in Delhi’s readiness to revise its views about Dahal. Delhi is also at a stage when it cannot deny Dahal’s centrality in Nepali politics for at least a few more years to come and hence, has no option other than to engage with Dahal while formulating its Nepal strategy.”
“Though it would be wrong to imagine that a single visit will change much, the importance of Dahal’s upcoming trip should not be undermined as it formally marks a thaw in the Delhi-Dahal relationship. But we have to wait until next week to see how Dahal will make use of his India trip to narrow the rift of mistrust and misgivings between the two,” the paper said.
Prachanda is coming alongwith his wife Sita, senior party leader Krishna Bahadur Mahara and his aide Shiva Khakurel. On Sunday, he is scheduled to go to Himachal Pradesh to see the site of the Nathpa Jhakri dam on the Sutlej river which produces 1,500 megawatt electricity.
On Tuesday, Dahal will meet Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid before heading back to Kathmandu. He is likely to address the Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA) at Sapru House on Monday evening.
–Indo-Asian News service