It could be the beginning of a new chapter in Indo-Nepal ties. As Nepal Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda' comes visiting New Delhi on a four-day tour starting September 15, the governments of both the countries are hoping that Prachanda would do what his predecessor K.P Oli failed to.
Though Oli visited India in February, his first foreign country tour in office as per tradition, it was at the end of a bitter winter during which blockades along the border prevented supplies from moving to the Himalayan country, leading to hardship and shortage. Oli's passing of the new Constitution, which India perceived as unfair to Madhesis of the Terai belt was the flashpoint.
In round two, Nepal, too, is treading carefully. On Monday, Nepal Foreign Minister Prakash Sharan Mahat visited New Delhi and met External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to prepare the ground for Prachanda's tour.
Prachanda's visit would firstly be the courtesy call that every new Nepali prime minister gives India after taking over. This time it is significant on two levels. Firstly, when Prachanda became prime minister in his first term, he chose Beijing over Delhi as his fist official port of call. Secondly, Oli took several months before he visited Delhi. Prachanda, who took over on August 4, has not wasted time making the visit and laying out his priorities. Significantly, though Prachanda, a Maoist, is close to China, Chinese premiere XI Jingpin recently cancelled a scheduled tour to Nepal, reportedly miffed over Kathmandu's Delhi leaning as well as a delay in implementing some agreements signed by Oli. Both China and Nepal had clarified that the visit is not “cancelled” but may happen at a date not yet fixed.
Prachanda's meeting would also focus on economic ties between the two countries, specially the hydroelectric plants that would give power deficient Nepal's economy a booster shot.