Prachanda’s India visit: What’s next for India-Nepal relations?

The change in leadership of the Nepal government in August 2016 brought the former Maoist rebel leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal, also known as Prachanda as the prime minister of a coalition government of the Maoists and the Nepali Congress. Having replaced KP Oli of the CPN-UML, Dahal faces the uphill task of internal peace and constitutional implementation whilst having to reset and recalibrate the topsy-turvy India-Nepal ties. The recent visits by the Nepali deputy prime minister Bimalendra Nidhi and the Nepali foreign minister Prakash Sharan Mahat to Delhi has laid the groundwork for Prachanda’s four-day visit to India, at the invitation of his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi.

Background

The historical nature of the India-Nepal relationship and the people-people relations do not need any introduction. However, in recent times, the promulgation of the Constitution of Nepal, 2015 and the subsequent protests and border blockade have been a major setback in the relationship. Nepal’s subsequent signing of transit and other agreements with China has been regarded by some in India as a significant loss of India’s influence in Nepal. Given the history of the India-Nepal relationship, it is unlikely that any deal between Nepal’s agitating forces will be resolved without Indian blessings (explicit or otherwise). For Nepal, the continuance of the constitutional crisis is a major stumbling block to peace and development and resolution of this crisis is necessary for the implementation of the Constitution which sees Nepal as a federal democratic republic. In this backdrop, the significance of Prachanda’s first foreign visit should be examined to check whether both nations can steer the relationship into a positive framework to ensure that the interests and concerns of both nations can be addressed equitably

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