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.
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