“I will make sure that Nepal’s sovereignty, independence, freedom, geographical integrity, self-respect and dignity are not adversely affected,” affirmed Oli who, according to officials here, is scheduled to begin his maiden visit to India from February 19.
Oli, who is considered relatively soft towards India among the Communist leaders in the Himalayan nation, has been criticising India vehemently since he became the prime minister in October last year.
The reason for Oli spewing vitriol against India immediately after assuming office was possibly due to his facing hard days due to an anti-Constitution agitation by Madhesi parties in the southern Terai plains. The protest also led to blockading of key Nepal-India border points resulting in acute scarcity of essentials in the landlocked Himalayan nation.
Oli has also been asked by some organisations to talk to India about revising the “unequal” 1950 India-Nepal Treaty of Peace and Friendship, to which Oli has responded that he will work for the welfare of the country.
Many leaders, however, have asked Oli to look at the bilateral relationship in its totality.
“This is not the right time for the prime minister to raise issues like amending of treaties or other controversial pending issues like the boundary row with India,” said Rajan Bhattarai, a parliamentarian from Oli’s party CPN-UML.
Bhattarai is also a member of the Eminent Persons’ Group formed by the Nepal government to look into the totality of bilateral agreed to during the visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in August 2014.
According to Bhattarai, during the visit, political issues, and strengthening of bilateral ties should be discussed at a time when Nepal-India ties have plunged to a new low.
Oli is likely to discuss strengthening cooperation in trade, tourism, as well as seek Indian investment, and implementation of past accords and various projects undertaken by India.
He will also discuss utilisation of the $1 billion line of credit announced by Modi in various infrastructure-related projects and another $1 billion aid and loan pledged by India for Nepal’s reconstruction after the earthquake.
Foreign affairs expert Nischal Nath Pandey said it was “better to have implement the past understanding and commitment rather than carrying new wish list”.
Maximum utilisation of the Indian line of credit, construction of the Nepal-India petroleum pipeline, expediting sub-regional cooperation under the Saarc framework, and construction of airports and mega-infrastructure should be the focus of the prime minister’s visit, said Pandey.