The high profile four-day visit of Prime Minister of Nepal Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ to India concluded on September 18, 2016. During the official visit, India and Nepal issued a joint statement and signed three memoranda of understandings (MoUs). These MoUs are:
MoU for up-gradation and improvement of road infrastructure in Terai region of Nepal;
First amendatory dollar credit line agreement between Government of Nepal and EXIM Bank; and
New Line of Credit (LOC) agreement for US$ 750 million for post-earthquake reconstruction projects in Nepal.
Besides, the two countries also underlined the need to further deepen and expand bilateral cooperation in all areas for the mutual benefit of the people of the two countries and agreed to hold the next session of the India-Nepal Joint Commission in 2016.
The importance of the visit
The visit of the Nepal’s Prime Minister was the need of the hour to inject new dynamism in India-Nepal ties and to clear the air of mistrust that had set in with India pressurizing the Koirala government and then the Oli government to amend the Constitution to incorporate Madhesi concerns.
Further, matters came practically to a breaking point when Nepal signed a major infrastructure pact with China, seeking access to Chinese ports and help with road and rail construction.
However, in recent months, Prachanda has become India’s preferred choice for engaging more constructively with Nepal after Prachanda in August made it clear that he will lead a less hostile government for India. And as a sign of intent to normalize relations, Prachanda dispatched Bimalendra Nidhi, Prachanda’s deputy prime minister, to India.
Regardless of the outcome of the visit, the question is whether Prachanda can beat the instability his predecessors faced and whether he can show a greater commitment to the Madhesi concerns.