Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the eastern Nepali city of Janakpur to offer prayers at the famous Janaki Temple has been cancelled, Nepal government officials said on Thursday.
Issuing a statement, Minister for Physical Infrastructure and Transport Bimalendra Nidhi confirmed the cancellation, saying the decision was conveyed by the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Kathmandu.
However, an official at the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu denied the cancellation. “There’s no official communication on the conformation of the cancellation of the Prime Minister’s visit,” Abhay Kumar, Spokesperson at the Indian Embassy told The Hindu . Mr. Kumar said he was aware of the local media reports and a final decision would be taken in a day or two.
There are also conflicting reports about Mr. Modi’s visits to religious places in Lumbini in Kapilvastu and Muktinath in Mustang district which he is scheduled to visit after the SAARC Summit in Kathmandu on November 27.
Mr. Nidhi blamed the UCPN (Maoist) and Madhes-based political parties for the cancellation. “Some Madhesi parties led by the UCPN (Maoist) protested against preparation of the visit which has been completed.” Their plan to make a parallel stage to welcome Mr. Modi and their threat to breach security led to the decision of the cancellation, Mr. Nidhi said.
The opposition parties objected to the allegation and blamed the government for the cancellation.
The dispute about the venue of the public reception for the Indian Prime Minister was the cause behind the cancellation. The government wanted it to be an “invitee-only” event inside the Janaki Temple complex, whereas most of the MPs from the region, business community and locals wanted it to be held at the nearby Barhabigh field which can accommodate about 400,000 people, according to some estimates.
There was also dispute over whether the Indian PM should be delivering a public address and the precedent it would set.