Nepal PM Deuba to visit India next month

Bitter territorial dispute over Kalapani in Uttarakhand may figure in discussions

Published - March 24, 2022 11:44 pm IST

Nepal Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba. File

Nepal Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba. File | Photo Credit: REUTERS

Kallol Bhattacherjee

Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba of Nepal will visit India in the first week of April, officials in the Prime Minister’s Office in Kathmandu have confirmed to The Hindu. The visit will take place days before Nepal goes for the local level elections which will culminate in the general polls later this year.

The visit comes at a time when Nepal is facing increasing international pressure from various global powers. Its Parliament under PM Deuba endorsed the MCC, a U.S. programme which was delayed by a few years because of internal opposition to it by several political parties. The pro–U.S. tilt of Nepal came even as the country balances Chinese and Indian interests. Mr. Deuba’s trip will take place days after the visit of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. 

Prime Minister Deuba came to power in July 2021 after the Supreme Court replaced Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli for violating the constitutional principles. Thereafter, he held a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the COP 26 summit in Glasgow last year. He was expected to visit Gujarat for the Vibrant Gujarat summit but the summit was cancelled due to the pandemic situation.

It is understood that the upcoming visit will give Mr. Deuba an opportunity to project his government’s commitment to the development projects in his country that requires completion. The Pancheshwar dam project and the Raxaul-Birganj-Kathmandu rail line are two of the projects that the Nepalese side may discuss with the Indian hosts. The visit is also expected to provide Mr. Deuba an extra edge in the tightly contested political space of Nepal. 

The visit is also significant as it will provide an opportunity to both sides to address the bitter territorial dispute over Kalapani in Uttarakhand. The dispute erupted in the winter of 2019 after India published a new political map. Nepal has been protesting the inclusion of Kalapani in the Indian map and has asked for Foreign Secretary–level talks that are yet to take place.

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