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Nepal Prime Minister likely to visit India in second week of April

Nepal Prime Minister Prachanda to visit Delhi soon

KATHMANDU: Nepali Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal aka Prachanda is likely to pay an official visit to India next month, sources said on Thursday.

This will be Prachanda’s maiden foreign visit after he got appointed as the country’s prime minister for a third time in December last year.

An aide of Prime Minister Prachanda said that the Prime Minister’s Office has instructed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other government agencies to make preparations for the visit.

“The two countries are discussing the potential dates for the prime minister’s visit at the diplomatic level. They will officially announce the date for the visit at an opportune time,” the aide told India Narrative on Thursday. He shared that Prime Minister Prachanda will visit New Delhi in the second week of April.

Nepal’s Ambassador in New Delhi, Dr Shanker Prasad Sharma, was recently in Kathmandu to discuss with the authorities the likely agendas to be taken up by Nepal during the prime minister’s proposed visit to India, foreign ministry officials said.

“The visit will be a continuation of high-level exchange of visits between the two countries. No new agendas will be taken forward this time,” the officials said.

They further said that the visit will offer an opportunity to discuss the bilateral cooperation in the field of energy, trade, agriculture, education, defence and people-to-people ties.

The two countries had held a preliminary discussion on Prime Minister Prachanda’s India visit when Indian Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra visited Nepal in February this year. Just before Kwatra’s visit to Kathmandu, Prime Minister Prachanda in a TV interview said that India would be his first port of call.

However, owing to internal political developments of Nepal, the Indian government did not immediately invite Prachanda to New Delhi, according to multiple sources.

Before leaving for India in mid-April, Prime Minister Prachanda will take the vote of confidence in parliament and reshuffle his cabinet. In the reshuffle, the Nepali Congress, largest party in parliament, will appoint its ministers in the Prachanda-led government.

According to media reports, the Congress party will get several ministerial portfolios including the finance ministry and foreign ministry which were held by KP Sharma Oli’s CPN (UML) from December 2022 to late February 2023 when the party was backing Prime Minister Prachanda.

Those ministerial portfolios have fallen vacant after the UML recalled its ministers and withdrew its support to the government in February last week following Prime Minister Prachanda’s abrupt move to severe ties UML’s Oli by lending support to the Nepali Congress candidate in the presidential elections. Oli saw a ‘foreign hand’ behind Prachanda’s sudden move.

After the UML’s pullout, the seven-party alliance collapsed in February last week, paving the way for the Congress party to join the government.

In the changed context, eight parties comprising the CPN (Maoist Centre), the Nepali Congress, CPN (Unified Socialist) Janata Samajbadi Party, Janamat Party, Nagarik Unmukti Party, Loktantrik Samjbadi Party and Rastriya Janamorcha are forming a new ruling alliance.

A common candidate of the eight-party alliance, Ram Chandra Paudel, a veteran leader of the Congress party, won presidential elections on March 9.

This eight-party new alliance will be an extension to the five-party ruling alliance which existed since mid-July 2021 after the ouster of the then PM Oli.

The five-party ruling alliance had come into existence in retaliation to Oli’s move of dissolving parliament twice in December 2020 and in May 2021.

Also read: Nepal’s ruling alliance breaks down as Oli’s CPN-UML quits government

(Santosh Ghimire is India Narrative’s Nepal Correspondent based in Kathmandu)