Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal was greeted with usual suspicion and protest, both in his party and opposition, upon his return from a ‘fully satisfied’ four-day visit to Delhi.
His critics have three issues against him: by agreeing to work together in international fora, Nepal has lost its foreign policy independence that it exercised all these years; What if India is pitted against China or other friendly countries in the international fora? Dahal’s response was ‘This is just a continuation of the point agreed between the K P Oli government and Modi government at the foreign ministers level in July last year. Dahal also expressed Nepal’s support to India’s claim for a permanent seat in the UN security council.
Dahal was criticised within the central secretariat of his own party, with senior leader Narayan Kaji accusing that what Dahal did in Delhi will make another neighbour ‘angry’.
The ‘oversight mechanism’ consisting of the officials from government of Nepal and the Indian Embassy to monitor progress of Indian projects in Nepal, and Dahal ‘briefing Nepal’s political situation including what all constitutional amendments he is going to make to Modi and yet failing to secure a welcome to Nepal’s constitution on its first anniversary eve coinciding his Delhi trip are seen as being in ‘detriment’ to Nepal’s interest.
However, Dahal insists it was a great success with India and Nepal leaving behind their misunderstanding of the past. This time around, India will not be raising the issue of human rights violation in Madhes by the state authorities, like it did in the UN Human right council in Geneva last year, largely because of the new bonding, and partly because of developments in Kashmir where it is facing similar accusations.
Dahal also is upbeat about the huge line of credits–350 million US dollar–for building roads and power infra-structure, a reiteration to have Indian projects executed on time, an another 1080 million dollars for construction of irrigation projects, roads and bridges. But high promises and poor delivery have been synonym to the ‘loss of opportunities’ adding trust deficit in the bilateral relations always. And what can be safely predicted is that Dahal who leads a minority government will have to care more about saving his chair in a volatile politics and hung parliament than having to follow up the development projects agreed during the visit, in the days to come.
But Dahal and India will have major rift in the days to come, especially during his remaining seven months in the office (as per the agreement with coalition Partner Nepali Congress). The focus will be on implementation of the constitution that he says will be his priority, and India continues to just take a ‘note’ of its existence. And secondly, Nepal ‘s political instability and change of government every eight or nine months on an average, will also have an impact on the understanding reached with other countries near and far.