Nepal Prime Minister KP Oli’s first visit to India since being re-elected will provide an opportunity for the two sides to move past differences that began with Madhesi protests and were heightened by the fall of his previous government in 2016.
Oli, who blamed New Delhi for its ally CPN (Maoist Centre) pulling out of the government, will arrive in India on Friday. On his schedule are meetings with businessmen and Nepali Diaspora in Delhi.
He will hold talks with his Indian counterpart, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Saturday, and will deliver an address at an event organised by India Foundation. He is scheduled to visit Uttarakhand’s GB Pant on Sunday, before leaving for home.
“Rather than piling up new agreements and forgetting about them, we’ll focus on how to make tangible progress on past agreements and in areas of mutual cooperation,” Oli told Nepalese Parliament in Kathmandu on Tuesday on his upcoming visit agenda. According to sources focus in talks will remain on connectivity, including cross border railways, border management, energy and trade. Four pacts are likely to be signed—agreements on inland water navigation in Koshi river, agriculture, bulk cargo movement through more transit points and one concerning Raxaul border.
The two prime ministers will also jointly lay foundation stone of the 900MW Arun III hydro project through pressing of a button on Saturday. The plant, to be developed by state run Indian firm SJVN (Sutlej Jala Vidhyut Nigam) in eastern Nepal, under construction with an Indian assistance of $1.5 billion. The leaders will also inaugurate the Integrated Check Post at Birgunj-Raxaul border developed over last seven years.
Oli government hopes to expedite implementation of Pancheshwor Multipurpose Power Project, talk on ferrying goods via Ganges and open more air routes from India. Nepal will seek loans at low rates of interest for post-quake rehabilitation, and assure India of Cooperation to counter terrorism, human trafficking and cross border crimes. In his Parliament speech, Oli said he wanted a harmonious relationship with neighbours based on “mutual respect, equality, non-interference”. With Nepal as chair for SAARC and BIMSTEC, Oli wants to push for regional and sub-regional cooperation, which will be tricky areas of conversation given the India led boycott of SAARC summit in Pakistan in 2016 in wake of Uri terror strikes.
Oli also lent his support to the Chinese grand BRI (Belt and Road Initiative) that India opposes since it has CPEC (China Pak Economic Corridor) running through Pakistan Occupied Kashmir.
Ties between India and Nepal soured after Oli was elected in October 2015, with Kathmandu blaming India for the Madhesi protests and the five-month blockade on the Indo-Nepal border that followed.
Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre) pulled out support from Oli’s government in July 2016, causing his government to fall. Oli has blamed India for “trying to destablise” his government, a charge New Delhi has denied.